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Working to Eliminate Cancer Health Disparities from Tobacco: A Review of the National Cancer Institute’s Community Networks Program

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In 2005, the National Cancer Institute funded the Community Networks Program (CNP), which aimed to reduce cancer health disparities in minority racial/ethnic and underserved groups through community-based participatory research, education, and training. The purpose of this study was to describe the CNP model and their tobacco-related work in community-based research, education, and training using a tobacco disparities research framework.


We conducted a comprehensive review of the CNP tobacco-related activities including publications, published abstracts, research activities, trainee pilot studies, policy-related activities, educational outreach, and reports produced from 2005-2009. Two authors categorized the tobacco-related activities and publications within the framework.


Although there was no mandate to address tobacco, the CNPs produced 103 tobacco-related peer-reviewed publications, which reflects the largest proportion (12%) of all CNP cancer-related publications. Selected publications and research activities were most numerous under the framework areas "Psychosocial Research," "Surveillance," "Epidemiology," and "Treatment of Nicotine Addiction." Thirteen CNPs participated in tobacco control policymaking in mainstream efforts that affected their local community and populations, and 24 CNPs conducted 1147 tobacco-related educational outreach activities. CNP activities that aimed to build research and infrastructure capacity included nine tobacco-related pilot projects representing 16% of all CNP cancer-related pilot projects, and 17 publications acknowledging leveraged partnerships with other organizations, a strategy encouraged by the CNP.


The CNP is a promising academic-community model for working to eliminate tobacco-related health disparities. Future efforts may address scientific gaps, consider collaboration across groups, assess the extent of operationalizing community-based participatory research, and improve common tracking measures.

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