|NC Breast Cancer Screening Program a national model|
|May 04, 2011|
The North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program (NC-BCSP), originally designed to address health disparities between African-American and white women in eastern North Carolina, has been designated a Research-tested Intervention Program (RTIP) by the National Cancer Institute, making information about the program available to others throughout the country.
Faculty and students from the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health have led development and implementation of the program, which continues to be requested by community organizations nearly two decades after it was launched.
NC-BCSP was designed to reduce late-stage diagnosis of breast cancer in older African-American women living in eastern North Carolina. The program addressed disparities between African-American and white women attributable to later-stage diagnosis of breast cancer among black women. As a result of NC-BCSP's positive impact, the program long has been considered a national model in rural cancer control for its effective use of a lay health advisor network to promote routine mammography screening among women 50 years and older.
The multi-year study was sponsored initially in 1993 by UNC Lineberger Cancer Center's NCI-funded breast cancer SPORE (Special Program of Research Excellence) grant, and later supported by generous funding from the Kate B. Reynolds and Komen foundations. During the decade-long study, NC-BCSP trained more than 200 community members from five rural eastern North Carolina counties (Martin, Washington, Tyrrell, Bertie and Beaufort) as lay health advisors or community outreach specialists; in the community, NC-BCSP was known as the Save our Sisters program.
More than 10 faculty members from schools of public health and medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University participated in the study, along with more than 50 students, primarily from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health's health behavior and health education department, who played key roles as trainers, interventionists and evaluation specialists.
"While we reduced the racial gap in screening in all five counties, and actually closed it in two of them, I am proudest of the fact that the greatest gains in mammography screening were made by the lowest-income, least-educated women, the very group NC-BCSP had targeted at the outset of the study," said Jo Anne Earp, ScD, principal investigator for NC-BCSP and professor and chair of health behavior and health education in UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The RTIP designation "affirms that a dedicated effort between community and university partners can make a crucial difference in screening rates for those most in need," said Earp, who is also a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Screening Program and director of its Cancer Control and Education Training Program.
NCI's RTIP designation refers to a searchable database of cancer control interventions and program materials designed to provide program planners and public health practitioners with immediate access to research-tested materials. RTIPS have results published in peer-reviewed journals and must have produced one or more positive behavioral or psychosocial outcomes among individuals, communities or populations. The programs are reviewed by an expert panel as part of the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices and are scored on research integrity, intervention impact and dissemination capability.
Other RTIPs based in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health include: "N.C. Black Churches United for Better Health" (improved diet), "Family Matters" (smoking cessation), "Body and Soul" (improved nutrition), PRISM (Performance of Routine System Management).
More information on these and other RTIP programs within the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and throughout the country is available online.