From 1999–2004, the CIS worked with researchers through all stages of the research continuum.15
The CIS Research Program is built upon lessons learned from the two previous decades of supporting and implementing cancer communication research.16,5
The CIS embraces the concept of a collaborative research team to guide the development and implementation of research studies conducted with the CIS as a way to ensure that study findings can be incorporated back into the CIS Program.15
To facilitate the development of collaborative research teams, the NCI created new CIS positions and funded four senior research coordinators (SRCs) in 2005 who work with investigators to develop their research concepts and proposals. The SRCs are housed in four academic institutions and thus, are immersed in both the academic environment as well as the service environment of the CIS. Due to this positioning, they are able to explain research caveats to CIS staff and CIS-related service considerations to researchers with the aim of balancing the goals and requirements of both research and service.
The SRCs ensure that the proposed study supports the CIS research agenda, that the implementation of the study protocol does not compromise service to the public, and that the CIS staff are appropriately integrated in the design and implementation of the study. In addition, the SRCs serve as liaisons between the CIS staff (in the Partnership Program and the Information Service), the NCI Office of the Cancer Information Service, and the researchers; they play a variety of roles as part of the research team including co-investigator or consultant/advisor. For many studies, they have key responsibilities for study implementation, data analysis, or report writing and manuscript preparation. While other CIS staff also actively participate in research teams as appropriate, the coordination of the implementation of studies throughout the CIS network is the responsibility of the SRCs.
As a resource to researchers, the SRCs routinely provide a listing of funding opportunities and conferences relevant to health communication and cancer control and work with researchers to find appropriate grant announcements and dissemination opportunities. When working with researchers to develop their initial research concepts and proposals, the SRCs make available all publications from the CIS Research Bibliography (http://cis.nci.nih.gov/research/research.html
) and information about the CIS’ data collection system used to record demographics and subjects of interaction for clients contacting the Information Service. In addition, SRCs work with researchers to analyze data from the Information Service17
and NCI’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) (http://hints.cancer.gov/hints/
They also connect researchers to resources such as Cancer Control PLANET (http://cancercontrolplanet.cancer.gov/
) which helps researchers and public health professionals:
- identify cancer-relevant statistics;
- identify potential partners;
- identify evidence-based interventions;
- find research-tested programs and products;
- connect to planning and evaluation resources.
Other unique resources that are available to researchers when developing collaborative research studies with the CIS include NCI’s Consumer Health Profiles, a propriety database of health behavior, demographic, lifestyle, and geographic data for audience segmentation. Consumer Health Profiles combine information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Medstat’s PULSE survey (a telephone survey of 100,000 households), the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Claritas Inc.’s PRIZMNE Lifestyle Segmentation, and Simmons Market Research Bureau’s Survey of Media and Markets.
All three components of the program (ie, the Information Service, Partnership Program, and Research Program), are staffed by trained professionals (eg, training managers, cancer content specialists, communications specialists, contact center managers) who assist researchers in developing educational materials and identifying effective recruitment strategies. Staff throughout the program are available to serve on study teams. In addition to trained staff, the CIS has a quality assurance program and national training program19
with the infrastructure and functions that enable researchers to efficiently and effectively train CIS staff who implement study protocols and interventions. Finally, a dedicated NCI/CIS project officer role was implemented 4 years ago to oversee the Research Program and to ensure that studies support this agenda and are beneficial to the program. The project officer ensures that the CIS has the capacity to play the proposed role in the study and that the study does not compromise services delivered through the program.