Karmanos Cancer Institute’s (KCI) Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) initiatives are supervised by Dr. Hayley Thompson, Associate Center Director for COEand coordinated by the Office of Cancer Health Equity and Community Engagement (OCHECE). Knoll Larkin, MPH, is the director of OCHECE. OCHECE’s mission is to eliminate cancer health disparities in Michigan by promoting community-engaged research and evidence-based strategies throughout KCI’s 46-county catchment area in Michigan.
OCHECE coordinates a number of efforts. These include Michigan Cancer HealthLink (formerly Detroit HealthLink for Equity in Cancer Care), an academic-community partnership created to build community capacity to collaborate in cancer-related research. HealthLink convenes Cancer Action Councils (CACs), groups of cancer survivors, caregivers, and advocates who use their local knowledge and expertise to reduce the burden of cancer. There are currently eight CACs across six cities in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Genesee counties with racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse membership. Three CACs are specific to Arab American and LGBTQ priority populations. The HealthLink network currently includes over 80 CAC members, who are trained using capacity building curriculum and use this knowledge to identify research priorities and develop specific research questions that can be pursued in partnership with KCI investigators.
OCHECE has also established a Research and Advocacy Consortium (RAC), a growing network that currently includes faith-based, social service, and public health organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Genesee counties as formal members and partners.
OCHECE also supports research infrastructure and projects that address disparities in the catchment area. This includes an NCI P30 supplemental award to build a Rural Cancer Control Research Program in collaboration with the co-located KCI and McLaren Hospital sites in Central Michigan, as well as local federally qualified health centers and primary care clinics. By building this infrastructure, KCI will be able to conduct research, specifically in the areas of familial and genetic risk of cancer and cancer caregiving.
OCHECE’s work also addresses health policy implementation. This includes a second P30 supplemental award to conduct an environmental scan of barriers, facilitators, and implementation strategies to promote uptake of the HPV vaccine in regions with low adolescent HPV vaccination rates. Additional work is supported by a third P30 supplement with Dr. Cote as lead investigator that focuses on infrastructure development to implement smoking cessation interventions among cancer patients.
OHCECE has focused on advancing academic-community research partnerships through community-engaged research and helps to organize the Wayne State University and Karmanos Cancer Institute Community-Engaged Research Symposium, a free event to community stakeholders and academic researchers that features nationally-recognized faculty in the field.