INTRODUCTION: Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has great potential to address cancer disparities, particularly in racially and ethnically diverse and underserved neighborhoods. The objective of this study was to conduct a process evaluation of an innovative academic-community partnership, Queens Library HealthLink, which aimed to reduce cancer disparities through neighborhood groups (Cancer Action Councils) that convened in public libraries in Queens, New York.
METHODS: We used a mixed-methods approach to conduct 69 telephone survey interviews and 4 focus groups (15 participants) with Cancer Action Council members. We used 4 performance criteria to inform data collection: action or attention to sustainability, library support for the council, social cohesion and group leadership, and activity level. Focus group transcripts were independently coded and cross-checked for consensus until saturation was achieved.
RESULTS: Members reported benefits and barriers to participation. Thirty-three original focus group transcript codes were organized into 8 main themes related to member experiences: 1) library as a needed resource, 2) library as a reputable and nondenominational institution, 3) value of library staff, 4) need for a HealthLink specialist, 5) generation of ideas and coordination of tasks, 6) participation challenges, 7) use of community connections, and 8) collaboration for sustainability.
CONCLUSION: In response to the process evaluation, Cancer Action Council members and HealthLink staff incorporated member suggestions to improve council sustainability. The councils merged to increase intercouncil collaboration, and institutional changes were made in funding to sustain a HealthLink specialist beyond the grant period.
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