Deanna Kepka, MPH, PhD

Academic Information

  • Departments: Nursing - Associate Professor, Population Health Sciences - Adjunct Assistant Professor
  • Divisions: Acute and Chronic Care

Academic Bio

Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, is a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Utah. She is a member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences (CCPS) research group

Kepka’s main research interests are the gaps in health care access and quality for vulnerable populations. She focuses specifically on preventing cervical cancer among US Latinas, who have higher rates of cervical cancer than most other racial and ethnic groups. Utah has one of the lowest rates of completion of the HPV vaccination series in the country, and Kepka’s work with CCPS and the College of Nursing intends to develop more effective patient-provider interventions that will help increase this rate. She is also dedicated to improving health care services for cancer prevention and control among minority and underserved populations.

Kepka has worked with teams in at-risk communities, promoting positive health behaviors in Jamaica, Chicago, North Carolina, and Washington. Since 2007, she has worked with Hispanic and Latino communities in Mexico, Peru, Chicago, North Carolina, and Washington. She has also developed a radionovela (a Spanish short story broadcast) that successfully improved knowledge and sparked interest in the HPV vaccine among rural Latino parents in the United States.

Kepka was most recently a posdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where she received the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Merit Award. She received her PhD in health services from the University of Washington School of Public Health and her MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Kepka D, Bodson J, Lai D, Sanchez-Birkhead AC, Davis FA, Lee D, Tavake-Pasi F, Napia E, Villalta J, Mukundente V, Mooney R, Coulter H, Stark LA (2018). Diverse caregivers' HPV vaccine-related awareness and knowledge. Ethn Health, 26(6), 811-826.
  2. Ayres S, Gee A, Kim S, Hashibe M, Praag A, Kaiser D, Chang CP, Brandt HM, Kepka D (2021). Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Knowledge, Barriers, and Recommendations Among Healthcare Provider Groups in the Western United States. (Epub ahead of print) J Cancer Educ.
  3. Waters AR, Kepka D, Ramsay JM, Mann K, Vaca Lopez PL, Anderson JS, Ou JY, Kaddas HK, Palmer A, Ray N, Tsukamoto T, Fair DB, Lewis MA, Kirchhoff AC, Warner EL (2021). COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors. JNCI Cancer Spectr, 5(3), pkab049.
  4. Waters AR, Mann K, Vaca Lopez PL, Kepka D, Wu YP, Kirchhoff AC (2021). HPV Vaccine Experiences and Preferences Among Young Adult Cancer Survivors and Caregivers of Childhood Cancer Survivors. (Epub ahead of print) J Cancer Educ.
  5. Rutkoski H, Tay DL, Dixon BL, Pinzon LM, Mooney R, Winkler JR, Kepka D (2021). A Multi-state Evaluation of Oral Health Students' Knowledge of Human Papillomavirus-Related Oropharyngeal Cancer and HPV Vaccination. J Cancer Educ, 35(5), 1017-1025.
  6. Warner EL, Vaca Lopez PL, Kepka D, Mann K, Kaddas HK, Fair D, Fluchel M, Knackstedt ED, Pannier ST, Martel L, Kirchhoff AC (2020). Influence of provider recommendations to restart vaccines after childhood cancer on caregiver intention to vaccinate. J Cancer Surviv, 14(5), 757-767.
  7. Harris KL, Tay D, Kaiser D, Praag A, Rutkoski H, Dixon BL, Pinzon LM, Winkler JR, Kepka D (2019). The perspectives, barriers, and willingness of Utah dentists to engage in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine practices. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 16(2), 436-444.
  8. Swiecki-Sikora AL, Henry KA, Kepka D (2019). HPV Vaccination Coverage Among US Teens Across the Rural-Urban Continuum. J Rural Health, 35(4), 506-517.
  9. Ou JY, Warner EL, Nam GE, Martel L, Carbajal-Salisbury S, Fuentes V, Wetter DW, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D (2018). Colorectal cancer knowledge and screening adherence among low-income Hispanic employees. Health Educ Res, 34(4), 400-414.
  10. Kepka D, Rutkoski H, Pappas L, Tay DL, Winkler JR, Dixon B, Velazquez A, Pinzon LM (2019). US oral health students' willingness to train and administer the HPV vaccine in dental practices. Prev Med Rep, 15, 100957.
  11. Blackburn BE, Soisson S, Rowe K, Snyder J, Fraser A, Deshmukh V, Newman M, Smith K, Herget K, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D, Werner TL, Gaffney D, Mooney K, Hashibe M (2019). Prognostic factors for rural endometrial cancer patients in a population-based cohort. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 921.
  12. Warner EL, Martel L, Ou JY, Nam GE, Carbajal-Salisbury S, Fuentes V, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D (2018). A Workplace-Based Intervention to Improve Awareness, Knowledge, and Utilization of Breast, Cervical, and Colorectal Cancer Screenings Among Latino Service and Manual Labor Employees in Utah. J Community Health, 44(2), 256-264.
  13. Islam JY, Gruber JF, Kepka D, Kunwar M, Smith SB, Rothholz MC, Brewer NT, Smith JS (2019). Pharmacist insights into adolescent human papillomavirus vaccination provision in the United States. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 15(7-8), 1839-1850.
  14. Kirchhoff AC, Mann K, Warner EL, Kaddas HK, Fair D, Fluchel M, Knackstedt ED, Kepka D (2019). HPV vaccination knowledge, intentions, and practices among caregivers of childhood cancer survivors. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 15(7-8), 1767-1775.
  15. Gaffney DK, Hashibe M, Kepka D, Maurer KA, Werner TL (2018). Too many women are dying from cervix cancer: Problems and solutions. Gynecol Oncol, 151(3), 547-554.
  16. Kepka D, Bodson J, Lai D, Sanchez-Birkhead A, Villalta J, Mukundente V, Tavake-Pasi F, Davis FA, Lee D, Napia E, Mooney R, Coulter H, Stark LA (2018). Factors Associated with Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Among Diverse Adolescents in a Region with Low Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Rates. Health Equity, 2(1), 223-232.
  17. Rutkoski H, Fowler B, Mooney R, Pappas L, Dixon BL, Pinzon LM, Winkler J, Kepka D (2017). Pilot Test of Survey to Assess Dental and Dental Hygiene Student Human Papillomavirus-Related Oropharyngeal Cancer Knowledge, Perceptions, and Clinical Practices. J Cancer Educ, 33(4), 907-914.
  18. Warner EL, Bodson J, Mooney R, Lai D, Samadder NJ, Kepka D (2017). Latinas' Colorectal Cancer Screening Knowledge, Barriers to Receipt, and Feasibility of Home-Based Fecal Immunochemical Testing. J Immigr Minor Health, 20(4), 981-990.
  19. Martin S, Warner EL, Kirchhoff AC, Mooney R, Martel L, Kepka D (2018). An Electronic Medical Record Alert Intervention to Improve HPV Vaccination Among Eligible Male College Students at a University Student Health Center. J Community Health, 43(4), 756-760.
  20. Hashibe M, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D, Kim J, Millar M, Sweeney C, Herget K, Monroe M, Henry NL, Lopez AM, Mooney K (2018). Disparities in cancer survival and incidence by metropolitan versus rural residence in Utah. Cancer Med, 7(4), 1490-1497.
  21. Fowler B, Samadder NJ, Kepka D, Ding Q, Pappas L, Kirchhoff AC (2017). Improvements in Colorectal Cancer Incidence Not Experienced by Nonmetropolitan Women: A Population-Based Study From Utah. J Rural Health, 34(2), 155-161.
  22. Fowler B, Ding Q, Pappas L, Wu YP, Linder L, Yancey J, Wright J, Clayton M, Kepka D, Kirchhoff AC (2016). Utah Cancer Survivors: A Comprehensive Comparison of Health-Related Outcomes Between Survivors and Individuals Without a History of Cancer. J Cancer Educ, 33(1), 214-221.
  23. Ou JY, Fowler B, Ding Q, Kirchhoff AC, Pappas L, Boucher K, Akerley W, Wu Y, Kaphingst K, Harding G, Kepka D (2018). A statewide investigation of geographic lung cancer incidence patterns and radon exposure in a low-smoking population. BMC Cancer, 18(1), 115.
  24. Warner EL, Ding Q, Pappas LM, Henry K, Kepka D (2017). White, affluent, educated parents are least likely to choose HPV vaccination for their children: a cross-sectional study of the National Immunization Study - teen. BMC Pediatr, 17(1), 200.
  25. Lai D, Bodson J, Warner EL, Ayres S, Mooney R, Kepka D (2017). Younger Age and Health Beliefs Associated with Being Overdue for Pap Testing among Utah Latinas who were Non-Adherent to Cancer Screening Guidelines. J Immigr Minor Health, 19(5), 1088-1099.
  26. Warner EL, Fowler B, Martel L, Kepka D (2017). Improving HPV Vaccination Through a Diverse Multi-state Coalition. J Community Health, 42(5), 911-920.
  27. Bodson J, Wilson A, Warner EL, Kepka D (2017). Religion and HPV vaccine-related awareness, knowledge, and receipt among insured women aged 18-26 in Utah. PLoS ONE, 12(8), e0183725.
  28. Warner EL, Ding Q, Pappas L, Bodson J, Fowler B, Mooney R, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D (2017). Health Care Providers' Knowledge of HPV Vaccination, Barriers, and Strategies in a State With Low HPV Vaccine Receipt: Mixed-Methods Study. JMIR Cancer, 3(2), e12.
  29. Henry KA, Swiecki-Sikora AL, Stroup AM, Warner EL, Kepka D (2017). Area-based socioeconomic factors and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among teen boys in the United States. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 19.
  30. Bodson J, Ding Q, Warner EL, Hawkins AJ, Henry KA, Kepka D (2017). Sub-Regional Assessment of HPV Vaccination Among Female Adolescents in the Intermountain West and Implications for Intervention Opportunities. Matern Child Health J, 21(7), 1500-1511.
  31. Lai D, Bodson J, Davis FA, Lee D, Tavake-Pasi F, Napia E, Villalta J, Mukundente V, Mooney R, Coulter H, Stark LA, Sanchez-Birkhead AC, Kepka D (2016). Diverse Families' Experiences with HPV Vaccine Information Sources: A Community-Based Participatory Approach. J Community Health, 42(2), 400-412.
  32. Kepka D, Spigarelli MG, Warner EL, Yoneoka Y, McConnell N, Balch A (2016). Statewide analysis of missed opportunities for human papillomavirus vaccination using vaccine registry data. Papillomavirus Res, 2, 128-132.
  33. Kepka D, Spigarelli MG, Warner EL, Yoneoka Y, McConnell N, Balch A (2016). Statewide analysis of missed opportunities for human papillomavirus vaccination using vaccine registry data. Papillomavirus Res, 2, 128-132.
  34. Fowler B, Bodson J, Warner EL, Dyer J, Kepka D (2016). Poor HPV vaccine-related awareness and knowledge among Utah Latinas overdue for recommended cancer screenings. J Community Health, 41(4), 825-37.
  35. Wilson AR, Hashibe M, Bodson J, Gren LH, Taylor BA, Greenwood J, Jackson BR, She R, Egger MJ, Kepka D (2016). Factors related to HPV vaccine uptake and 3-dose completion among women in a low vaccination region of the USA: an observational study. BMC Womens Health, 16, 41.
  36. Lai D, Ding Q, Bodson J, Warner EL, Kepka D (2015). Factors Associated with Increased HPV Vaccine Use in Rural-Frontier U.S. States. Public Health Nurs, 33(4), 283-94.
  37. Bodson J, Warner EL, Kepka D (2016). Moderate Awareness and Limited Knowledge Relating to Cervical Cancer, HPV, and the HPV Vaccine Among Hispanics/Latinos in Utah. Health Promotion Practice, 17(4), 548-56.
  38. Kepka D, Ding Q, Hawkins AJ, Warner EL, Boucher KM (2016). Factors associated with early adoption of the HPV vaccine in US male adolescents include Hispanic ethnicity and receipt of other vaccines. Prev Med Rep, 4, 98-102.
  39. Henry KA, Stroup AM, Warner EL, Kepka D (2016). Geographic Factors and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Initiation among Adolescent Girls in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 25(2), 309-17.
  40. Kepka D, Ding Q, Bodson J, Warner EL, Mooney K (2015). Latino Parents' Awareness and Receipt of the HPV Vaccine for Sons and Daughters in a State with Low Three-Dose Completion. J Cancer Educ, 30(4), 808-12.
  41. Kepka D, Ding Q, Warner EL, Spigarelli MG, Mooney K (2015). High school females and those with other vaccinations most likely to complete the Human Papillomavirus vaccine. Prev Med Rep, 2, 79-83.
  42. Kepka D, Breen N, King JB, Meissner HI, Roland KB, Benard VB, Saraiya M (2014). Demographic factors associated with overuse of Pap testing. Am J Prev Med, 47(5), 629-33.
  43. Bagshaw HP, Pappas LM, Kepka DL, Tward JD, Gaffney DK (2014). Patterns of care with brachytherapy for cervical cancer. Int J Gynecol Cancer, 24(9), 1659-64.