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Cancer Prevention & Control Research Network Takes Root
One of the unique advantages to being part of the nationwide prevention research center (PRC) network is the opportunity to collaborate with other PRCs. Under the leadership of PRCHN Associate Director Sue Flocke, PhD, the PRCHN is one of eight Prevention Research Centers that make up the Cancer Prevention & Control Research Network (CPCRN), which is funded by both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute. To obtain funding for the five-year study, Flocke took advantage of the CDC’s Special Interest Project (SIP) grant program. SIP Grants are only available to investigators affiliated with one of the PRCs in the national CDC network.

The nationwide CPCRN emphasizes:
  • Dissemination and Implementation research
  • Linkages between clinical and community prevention efforts
  • Multi-level data collection and intervention
  • Local research projects and collaborative projects across centers in the CPCRN
On a local level, Dr. Flocke and her research team are working closely with partners at MetroHealth to increase access to resources to aid smoking cessation. They are conducting a study that will make it easier to connect eligible individuals who want to quit smoking with free smoking cessation services via the Ohio QuitLine. The QuitLine offers tobacco cessation counseling via the telephone with up to five tailored counseling sessions.

Tobacco use is exceptionally high in Greater Cleveland, with 31.5% of Clevelanders reporting they use tobacco compared with the Ohio rate of 22.4% and the national rate of 20%. However, like other regions of the country, the state QuitLine is under-used. Along with Dr. Flocke and the PRCHN, partners on this project include:
  • MetroHealth: clinicians, staff, information systems team and patients
  • Ohio Department of Health: Tobacco prevention and control division that administers the Ohio QuitLine service
  • National Jewish Health, which serves as Ohio’s QuitLine provider
This multi-partner team had a common interest in reducing tobacco use and saw an opportunity to join together in a clinical-community linkage project.

As a member of the CPCRN, Dr. Flocke's team is also involved in two collaborative initiatives. She co-leads the Tobacco and Lung Cancer Screening working group. This cross-CPCRN center initiative aims to understand barriers and facilitators faced by community health centers related to implementing both: 1) tobacco assessment, cessation assistance, and referral; and 2) low-dose computed tomographic (LDCT) scan for lung cancer screening. Both of these tobacco-related services are recommended by the US Preventive Service Task Force.

The second project will also engage community health centers and is focused on improving the rates of colorectal cancer screening. This project aims to collaborate with community health centers to strengthen and evaluate existing CRC screening initiatives at the patient, clinic, and community level in order to increase CRC screening rates among the populations served by community health centers. The CWRU team is actively engaged in the survey development sub-group and the sampling sub-group.

Genevieve Birkby, CPCRN Project Director (pictured left), finds that “There are many benefits to working with local and national partners in a network format. We have been able to draw on the expertise of national partners with the guidance and administrative support of the overarching network (CPCRN’s Coordinating Center). The most challenging part of working in a network tends to be basic logistics i.e., virtually all meetings are held via teleconference or web conference; you lose the benefit of seeing people face to face.” A major success during fall 2015 was the development of a survey on lung cancer screening in Federally Qualified Health Centers. “Our partners will be able to provide on-the-ground support for dissemination of the survey, and then we will be able to collectively conduct relevant analyses,” she added.

Despite any logistical challenges, Birkby states that the CPRCN shares the CDC’s goals “to accelerate the adoption and implementation of evidence-based cancer prevention and control in communities. Given the excess burden of morbidity and mortality due to cancer in Cleveland, particularly among under-served populations, we are committed to use our CPCRN partnerships to reduce the burden of cancer in our communities.”

Visit the Greater Cleveland CPCRN website.
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