Dispatches from Implementation Science at NCI

Sustainability of Cancer Control Coalitions as a New “Box”?

By Cynthia Vinson

April 2019

This past week, our team had a strategic planning retreat that was designed to build on our previous work, challenge our current assumptions, and focus on developing new projects. We were asked to approach the retreat in a new way. Instead of trying to “think outside the box,” we were asked to reimagine “the box” and see if we could come up with some new “boxes.” I think the retreat was a success, and in the coming year some new projects will emerge from our team! 

You may wonder what that has to do with this blog post.  Well, preparing for and participating in the retreat encouraged me to take a fresh look at my work with the implementation science team and see if there are areas that I can move into. While the retreat is still fresh in my memory, I want to share some of my thoughts on a specific area of interest I would like to explore in detail this year. I hope that others can help me create at least one new box in this area in the coming year (or help me as I begin thinking outside of my normal boxes).

For many years. I have been privileged to serve as an NCI representative to the Comprehensive Cancer Control National Partnership exit disclaimer (CCCNP). The CCCNP is a collaborative group of 19 leading cancer organizations that work together to assist comprehensive cancer control (CCC) coalitions in developing, implementing, and evaluating CCC plans at the state, tribe, territory, US Pacific Island Jurisdiction, and local levels. Each of the national partners brings different expertise to the partnership, and NCI’s input in the CCCNP has been focused primarily on the use of evidence in CCC. Many of the tools that our team developed and manage (Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T., Research-tested Intervention Programs, State Cancer Profiles, etc.) were primarily designed to help practitioners who work in CCC to access, adapt, adopt, and implement evidence. We’ve had some interesting projects over the years that have allowed us to train CCC coalitions on the use of evidence, which is an area where I’ve been very comfortable. This is an existing box that I want to continue working in. However, I think there is an opportunity to think outside the current CCCNP box and develop a new box that specifically explores sustainability of coalitions.

Last November, I participated in a seminar in Ireland sponsored by the ESPRIT exit disclaimer team called “The Rule Rather Than the Exception: Embedding Implementation Science in Population and Health Services Research to Promote Effective Translation exit disclaimer.” During the seminar, Rachel Shelton gave a wonderful presentation about advancing sustainability research. Her presentation and the paper published by Shelton and Lee last month on “Sustaining Evidence-Based Interventions and Policies: Recent Innovations and Future Directions in Implementation Science exit disclaimer” motivated me to think about how I could help advance sustainability research through the projects that I currently work on.  While the paper focuses on sustaining evidence-based interventions and policies, many of the recommended research questions are relevant to sustaining coalitions and partnerships.

Specifically, the work of the CCCNP is primarily done through four workgroups, one of which focuses on sustaining comprehensive cancer control coalitions. I wonder if an opportunity exists for the CCCNP to partner with implementation scientists to understand how sustaining CCC coalitions impacts cancer control at the state, tribe, territory, and jurisdiction levels. For example, the “9 Habits of Successful Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalitions exit disclaimer” is a tool designed to help strengthen CCC coalitions. The 9 habits are

  1. Empowering Leadership
  2. Shared Decision Making
  3. Value-Added Collaboration
  4. Dedicated Staff
  5. Diversified Funding
  6. Effective Communication
  7. Clear Roles and Accountability
  8. Flexible Structure
  9. Priority Work Plans

While the 9 Habits weren’t designed as a conceptual framework for sustaining coalitions, many of the the components of the 9 Habits are similar to the components of the Public Health Program Capacity for Sustainability exit disclaimer framework by Schell et al. Can the 9 Habits be tested as a conceptual framework for sustaining coalitions? These are just a couple of opportunities that might be possible for digging into sustainability of coalitions. It would be great to hear what others think about this.

Share your comments or tweet me: @CindyVinson exit disclaimer


Cynthia Vinson
Cynthia A. Vinson, Ph.D., M.P.A., is a senior adviser for the Implementation Science Team in the Office of the Director in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Read More »


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