Using Community Feedback to Improve Community Interventions: Results From the Deep South Network for Cancer Control Project

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The Deep South Network for Cancer Control (DSNCC), initiated in 2000, is a dual-state, community-based participatory research infrastructure composed of academic and community partners committed to reducing cancer disparities among underserved African Americans in 12 designated counties of the Alabama Black Belt and the Mississippi Delta, 2 historically underserved areas of the country. Local residents trained as Community Health Advisors as Research Partners implemented a 3-tier community action plan (CAP) focused on promoting cancer screening, physical activity, and nutrition. Breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening, healthy eating habits, and physical activity levels increased among many, but not all, African American women in the 12-county DSNCC coverage area. Seeking to improve our reach to include participants who reported they had never heard of the DSNCC or participated in the CAP, we conducted in-depth conversations with community residents about reasons for selective nonparticipation and ways to improve participation in the DSNCC community health interventions. Three patterns and their associated themes described ways to improve the penetration of CAP strategies and tailor them to effectively reach underserved African Americans in the intervention counties. We conclude with lessons learned for future interventions.

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