Cancer Disparities in Context: Engaging Communities in Monitoring and Mapping
In our pilot project, we propose to produce detailed community and neighborhood maps of cancer disparities as part of a community-based participatory research process involving the Massachusetts Community Network to Eliminate Cancer Disparities Through Training, Research and Education (MASS CONECT). Our project addresses two key goals of "NCI Competitive Supplements for Pilot Projects for Community Networks Program to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities" (RFA-CA-06-504): (1) to provide preliminary data and results for future research projects; and (2) to involve partnerships of community-based and research organizations in community-based participatory research to reduce disparities. We focus on maps because they provide a powerful and intuitive tool for communicating and contextualizing cancer disparities across communities. By supplementing cancer registry data with socioeconomic data, using the methods of our Public Health Disparities Geocoding Project, we will be able to create novel maps showing links between racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic inequalities in cancer incidence and mortality, in relation to areas defined by public health agencies and the communities themselves. Working with community partners in the three MASS CONECT communities (Boston, Lawrence, and Worcester), we will: (1) convene discussions with community partners to develop a collaborative, community-based participatory research agenda around social disparities in cancer incidence and mortality; (2) compile the population data set, by geocoding 2000-2005 Massachusetts cancer incidence and mortality data and linking them to 2000 census tract poverty data and population denominators; (3) generate smoothed age-standardized cancer incidence and mortality rates for: (a) Boston, Lawrence, Worcester, and Massachusetts, and (b) community-defined neighborhoods within each city; (4) test the hypothesis that economic deprivation contributes to cancer disparities affecting the city neighborhoods; (5) generate maps showing links between these areas' cancer rates and poverty, and (6) work with our community partners to ensure they can accurately interpret, present, and disseminate the maps to their constituents and in their related public health work. By conducting this research, our project will contribute to the infrastructure, methods, and knowledge communities need to monitor, map, analyze, and address cancer disparities, thereby addressing key objectives of RFA-CA-06-504.