AboutCapabilitiesQualitative Core

Qualitative Core (Q-CORE)

Using traditional and innovative qualitative methods in applied health settings, KPCHR’s multi-disciplinary Qualitative Core (Q-CORE) goes beyond numbers alone to increase knowledge, generate research insights, and improve health services and outcomes.

Health care is delivered in a living, breathing real-world context, full of nuance and complexity. By using a mix of qualitative approaches, from interviews and focus groups to ethnography & participatory engagement, our research helps us understand these nuances and how they interact to influence outcomes.

Our qualitative researchers conduct:

  • Research with Spanish and English speaking patients, frontline staff, health care providers, department chiefs, and health system managers.
  • Formative research before a program or intervention is finalized and implemented.
  • Dissemination and implementation research about the dissemination of evidence-based programs in community, public health, and clinical practice settings, including research on the process of integrating interventions within a setting.
  • Evaluation research to evaluate impacts of treatment or service interventions.

Featured Studies

Exploring Factors that Hinder or Facilitate the Use of a Risk Assessment Tool

CHR joined with OCHIN and HealthPartners to test CV Wizard, a tool that produces a summary of each patient’s cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk at the point of care. The study found that when the tool was used at community health centers, patients were more likely to be prescribed CVD medications. The study team also explored barriers and facilitators to the use of CV Wizard. Qualitative researchers conducted interviews with organizational leaders, clinicians, and clinic staff. They also observed the tool’s use in clinics and kept notes about how the study team supported its implementation.

Learn More about The CV WIZARD Study

Rachel Gold, PhD, MPH
Principal Investigator

Members of the Qualitative Core


Carmit McMullen, PhD, Senior Investigator

A medical anthropologist, Dr. McMullen brings her expertise in qualitative and ethnographic research methods to studies in diverse areas including health care delivery, cancer survivorship, and aging. In addition to focus groups, interviews, and fieldwork (participant-observation), she also facilitates patient engagement in research by training patient advocates and integrating them into the research process. She has used ethnography to study how health care providers communicate, ensure patient safety, and implement electronic medical records systems. She has developed rapid assessment processes for conducting team-based ethnographic evaluations of clinical trials and implementations of other interventions, including health-information technology and organizational change in health care settings. Dr. McMullen received her MA and PhD in medical anthropology from Case Western Reserve University.


Bobbi Jo Yarborough, PsyD, Senior Investigator

Dr. Yarborough is a clinical psychologist and health services researcher with nearly 25 years of experience managing the clinical and scientific oversight of research studies, including qualitative and mixed-methods studies, large multisite randomized controlled trials, and implementation and process evaluations. Her research focus is on improvement of care and outcomes among individuals with serious mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. She recently received a National Institutes of Mental Health R01 grant award to study the implementation of suicide risk prediction models in three large health care systems. Dr. Yarborough earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oregon and her master’s in counseling and doctorate in clinical psychology from Pacific University.


Scott Stumbo, MA, Research Program Manager

Scott Stumbo has over 25 years of research experience using qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods approaches in a variety of settings. His primary work is on improvement of care and outcomes among individuals with serious mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. His most recent work has tried to understand patient and clinician preferences for the use of suicide risk identification algorithms in behavioral health settings. His previous work includes mixed methods research in HIV prevention among serodiscordant couples and working to improve maternal and child health care using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sociology, both from U.C. Berkeley.


Jennifer Schneider, MPH, Research Associate III

Ms. Schneider is a Senior Research Associate with broad expertise in qualitative research, including methodological design, data collection, and analysis. Since joining the Center for Health Research in 2000, Ms. Schneider has served as a co-investigator on many studies. Ms. Schneider has expertise in using observations, document review, interviews, focus groups, and mixed-method approaches to develop and evaluate interventions within integrated health plans or community health centers at the patient, provider, and health system levels.  Recent research areas where Ms. Schneider has employed qualitative methods include: cancer prevention/screening; chronic pain; medication adherence/de-prescribing; mental health; chronic conditions; impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; identification/communication of genetic findings; patient navigation programs; and experiences of medical financial debt). Ms. Schneider earned her bachelor’s degree in rhetoric/communication from the University of Oregon and her master’s degree in public health/health education, with a focus on qualitative methods, from Portland State University.


Dea Papajorgji-Taylor, MPH, MA, CCRP, Research Associate II

With over 15 years of experience in clinical trials and public health research studies, Ms. Papajorgji-Taylor has worked across diverse settings, including health departments, bilingual (Spanish/English) community mental health clinics, academic institutions, the US Office of Veterans Affairs, and a large integrated healthcare delivery system. With a focus on applying diverse public health disciplines to research studies, she has expertise in community and patient partner engagement, qualitative research methods, results dissemination, and recruitment and retention strategies for underrepresented populations. Since joining the Center for Health Research in 2016, Ms. Papajorgji-Taylor has contributed to numerous studies that deliver and evaluate interventions within integrated health plans using survey data, individual interviews, community engagement sessions, and focus groups at the patient, provider, and health system levels.

Ms. Papajorgji-Taylor earned her a bachelor's degree in political science and Spanish, and her master's degrees in public health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina and in international studies from East Carolina University.


Alison Firemark, MA, LPC, Research Associate III

Ms. Firemark has over 25 years of experience in qualitative research and behavioral health interventions. She is a skilled qualitative interviewer and focus group facilitator, working with patients, providers, community members and health care system administrators. Her research experience includes a rich background in qualitative analysis as well as process evaluation and improvement and User Centered Design. Ms. Firemark’s recent qualitative work has focused on the evaluation of interventions for chronic pain, opioid prescribing, and other chronic conditions. In addition to her qualitative work, Ms. Firemark is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Clinical Supervisor. Her clinical experience has primarily focused on the prevention and treatment of depression, suicide prevention and non-pharmacological interventions for chronic pain. In her clinical role Ms. Firemark is an Intervention Director, overseeing the delivery of care in mental health clinical trials, provides direct patient care and clinical supervision to a team of research mental health interventionists.

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