Working to Eliminate Barriers: Cancer Communities Online
In Arkansas, 61 out of 75 counties are considered rural which makes it difficult to collaborate effectively due to distance. Geographic barriers and a lack of local support resources in many rural communities present serious problems for creating and sustaining health coalitions. The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate a set of digital tools to support community-based participatory research in rural coalitions as a part of the Arkansas Cancer Community Network (AR-CCN) research effort. The eCommunities of Practice Tool (eCOPT) will be designed to help communities develop and support a framework for collaboration and decision-making and provide a mechanism for diverse stake holders to participate in the process on a regular basis. Components of the eCOPT are customized and incorporated into knowledge management systems through a systematic planning process to meet the needs of the AR-CCN Community Advisory Board and the Cancer Councils via the internet. The eCOPT tools will also enable the Community Advisory Board and Cancer Councils to enhance effectiveness through greater access to training and educational programs to promote health, prevent disease, and eliminate communication barriers. The eCOPT provides easy to use web tools for conducting threaded discussions, archiving and retrieving messages, managing online work groups, conducting surveys and voting, distributing documents, and conducting training amongst a stakeholder community. We hypothesize that the implementation of the eCOPT software by the Arkansas Cancer Research Center's (ACRC) AR-CCN will enable us to expand the scope of the Community Advisory Board and Cancer Councils by enhancing performance through better communication and organizational efficiency. More efficient and effective means of communicating within and among the Community Advisory Board and Cancer Councils would address many problems that we encounter. We will test this hypothesis through the following Specific Aims: Specific Aim 1: Systematically develop the eCommunities of Practice Tools (eCOPT) to support and expand communication among the Arkansas Cancer Community Networks and the Community Advisory Board Specific Aim 2: Field test and evaluate the eCommunities of Practice Tools (eCOPT) with a Cancer Council to support Community-Based Participatory Research. The overarching benefit to public health will be that eCOPT will enhance community coalition effectiveness, thus addressing access issues and improving Cancer Council activities. The project will employ a novel approach for coalition collaboration and communication. This project will evaluate the ability for community health coalitions to use the computer assisted communication and collaboration tools.