Addressing Cancer Disparities via Community Network Mobilization and Intersectoral Partnerships: A Social Network Analysis
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CitationRamanadhan, Shoba, Carmel Salhi, Erline Achille, Nashira Baril, Kerrie D'Entremont, Milagro Grullon, Christine Judge, Sarah Oppenheimer, Chrasandra Reeves, Clara Savage, and Kasisomayajula Viswanath. 2012. Addressing cancer disparities via community network mobilization and intersectoral partnerships: a social network analysis. PLoS ONE 7(2): e32130.
AbstractCommunity mobilization and collaboration among diverse partners are vital components of the effort to reduce and eliminate cancer disparities in the United States. We studied the development and impact of intersectoral connections among the members of the Massachusetts Community Network for Cancer Education, Research, and Training (MassCONECT). As one of the Community Network Program sites funded by the National Cancer Institute, this infrastructure-building initiative utilized principles of Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) to unite community coalitions, researchers, policymakers, and other important stakeholders to address cancer disparities in three Massachusetts communities: Boston, Lawrence, and Worcester. We conducted a cross-sectional, sociometric network analysis four years after the network was formed. A total of 38 of 55 members participated in the study (69% response rate). Over four years of collaboration, the number of intersectoral connections reported by members (intersectoral out-degree) increased, as did the extent to which such connections were reported reciprocally (intersectoral reciprocity). We assessed relationships between these markers of intersectoral collaboration and three intermediate outcomes in the effort to reduce and eliminate cancer disparities: delivery of community activities, policy engagement, and grants/publications. We found a positive and statistically significant relationship between intersectoral out-degree and community activities and policy engagement (the relationship was borderline significant for grants/publications). We found a positive and statistically significant relationship between intersectoral reciprocity and community activities and grants/publications (the relationship was borderline significant for policy engagement). The study suggests that intersectoral connections may be important drivers of diverse intermediate outcomes in the effort to reduce and eliminate cancer disparities. The findings support investment in infrastructure-building and intersectoral mobilization in addressing disparities and highlight the benefits of using CBPR approaches for such work.
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