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National Cancer Institute awards $3M grant to ASU

July 17, 2012

Funding to help ASU promote cancer screening among underserved populations

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $3 million grant to the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University to fund research to promote colorectal cancer (CRC) screening among underserved populations.

Of cancers that affect both women and men, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States, according to the most current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The college is leading a four-year randomized study of 1,600 participants, titled “Navigation from Community to Clinic to Promote CRC Screening among Underserved Populations,” and will be conducted in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The CRC screening study is an important part of the college’s strategic focus on health disparities among underserved populations, said Elizabeth Reifsnider, associate dean for research.

“This project is especially noteworthy as it will utilize community-based approaches with great promise for sustainability,” Reifsnider said. “Patient navigators can provide the bridge for underserved populations to access potentially life-saving screening.”

Screening rates for minorities and low-income populations are low due to lack of, or infrequent access to, primary care providers that would provide referrals for CRC screening. ASU professor Linda Larkey and Ohio State University professor Usha Menon, both principal investigators, said the aim of the research is early diagnosis of colorectal cancer to help reduce morbidity and mortality among these populations.

Two phases of study

The purpose of the first phase of the study will be to test the effectiveness of an intervention using “community-to-clinic navigators” to guide individuals aged 50 and over from especially hard-to-reach, multicultural and underinsured populations into primary care clinics to receive referrals for CRC screening.

In the second phase, the impact of the intervention on completion of CRC screening will be examined. Cost-effectiveness analysis will lay the foundation for further evaluation of the dissemination policy potential of the intervention.

The ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation is ranked 21st, or in the top 4 percent of graduate nursing programs, according to the 2012 U.S. News & World Report ranking of "Best Graduate Schools."