7: No. 1, January 2010
TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES
Developing and Implementing the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition Survivorship Summit
Stephenie C. Lemon, PhD;
Marianne N. Prout, MD, MPH; Junaidah B. Barnett, PhD, MCH(N);
Maureen Sullivan Flynn, MS
Suggested citation for this article: Lemon SC, Prout
MN, Barnett JB, Flynn MS. Developing and implementing the
Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition Survivorship Summit. Prev Chronic Dis 2010;7(1):A22.
jan/09_0060.htm. Accessed [date].
Cancer survivors face numerous medical and psychosocial challenges, which the medical and public health systems are
ill-equipped to deal with. In May 2008, the Massachusetts Comprehensive
Cancer Control Coalition conducted a Survivorship Summit to elicit input from cancer survivors and professionals
on developing system-level action plans for cancer survivorship issues. We describe how health care and public health professionals can implement similar events. Our results suggest that a
cancer survivorship summit can be a valuable tool for cancer coalitions and advocacy organizations in determining survivorship agendas and action plans.
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More people than ever are surviving a cancer diagnosis. Almost 12 million
cancer survivors live in the United States, and that number is expected to increase given recent trends (1). Despite
the decrease in deaths, many cancer survivors face medical and psychosocial
problems as a result of the cancer they have survived or the treatment they received (2). The
current health care and public health systems are not designed to handle the transition from active treatment to
posttreatment care (3,4). In its report From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition,
the Institute of Medicine addresses the medical and psychosocial issues faced by
cancer survivors and makes recommendations for improving the health and quality
of life of cancer survivors. Cancer survivors face
medical and psychosocial late effects
consequences, fatigue, pain, recurrence, depression and anxiety, distress, work
and financial problems) (5-10). Such problems are difficult to address from a public health or policy perspective. The Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition (MCCCC) seeks to guide cancer coalitions, survivorship-focused organizations, and public health professionals to
use the summit methodology to develop survivorship priorities and action plans.
We describe 1) the MCCCC Survivorship Summit planning process, 2) the process of eliciting and prioritizing action plans, and 3)
our evaluation results.
The MCCCC is responsible for decreasing deaths and suffering caused by cancer in the state of Massachusetts through a
comprehensive approach. The MCCCC comprises more than 300 organizational and individual members.
Its priorities are guided by
a statewide plan (11), which was implemented by 6 working groups, including the
Survivorship Working Group (SWG). Our work is funded in part by a cooperative
agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The goal of the SWG is to ensure that all cancer survivors in Massachusetts have equal access to information and follow-up medical, rehabilitative, and psychosocial services. The group includes 25 people from 12 organizations, representing academic, community, medical, and nonprofit voluntary sectors.
Survivorship begins on the day of diagnosis and includes others who are affected by the diagnosis,
including family members,
friends, and caregivers (12).
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Rationale for a Cancer Survivorship Summit
Beginning in 2006, the SWG conducted a series of assessments to better
understand cancer survivorship issues in Massachusetts. In the same year, questions were added to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The BRFSS monitors disease, prevention, and quality of life through telephone
interviews. BRFSS data confirmed that a substantial
proportion of the state’s adult population (20% of respondents aged 55 or older) had received a cancer diagnosis, with 52%
of these occurring more than 5 years before the survey. Cancer survivors had similar
behavioral risk factor rates (in the domains of smoking, physical activity, and weight)
compared with the general population. However, rates of chronic diseases and disability were substantially higher among cancer survivors than among the general population.
The SWG then implemented a Web- and telephone-based qualitative survey to
determine what barriers, issues, and concerns Massachusetts cancer survivors
experienced; 1,377 survivors responded to the survey. The SWG then
completed a thematic analysis to identify common experiences, which include the following: 1) the need for a central
source of information on resources available in respondents’ geographic area, without having to rely on support groups;
2) financial struggles that result from a cancer diagnosis, particularly among people
older than 60; 3) loss of health insurance; 4) workplace discrimination; 5) lack
of information about clinical trials; and 6) lack of awareness of the need for advanced care planning.
Survey participants did not broadly represent all cancer survivors. Most responses (63%) came from women,
more than 97% of whom were breast cancer survivors. The survey also did not
show how the common problems could be solved. The SWG determined that a statewide
cancer survivorship summit was needed to develop a
deeper understanding of the issues
and how they could be faced through devising specific short- and long-term action steps.
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Summit Planning and Development
The Summit Planning Committee (SPC), which comprised SWG members, realized that 1) specific problems faced by Massachusetts cancer survivors and their caregivers need to be
clarified, and 2) the strategies to solve these problems need to be well-defined action plans.
The SWG wanted the summit to include everyone involved in cancer survivorship (eg, people
with newly diagnosed cancer, those living with cancer, new and long-term cancer survivors, caregivers and family members, health care professionals, public policy makers). Summit participants
asked to define problems faced by cancer survivors and caregivers in Massachusetts
and to outline potential solutions. Additionally, the summit would allow participants to
interact with keynote presenters, workshop session leaders, and attendees representing health care organizations and community service organizations from around the state.
The summit planning and development process lasted from November 2006 through May
2008. SPC volunteers served in planning groups, which were chaired by the 1 or 2 people most experienced in the area. The SPC
met regularly to ensure that the planning groups were functioning effectively, meeting objectives on time, and getting needed resources. Meetings occurred mostly via conference calls;
informal communications occurred
via e-mail and telephone. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health coordinated the planning process, organized meetings, produced and circulated meeting minutes via e-mail, and
helped all planning groups.
Four planning groups were formed (Appendix). The Agenda and Content planning group developed the agenda for the summit, identified topics, and invited keynote speakers and summit working group content experts. The Sponsorship and Exhibit planning group identified potential locations, sought financial support from local and regional organizations, and
invited exhibitors. The Materials and Evaluation planning group developed educational materials
for the agenda to be included in summit handouts and produced and analyzed an evaluation form. The Marketing — Registration and Materials planning group developed registration materials and
created and distributed summit advertisement materials.
Summit format and action plans
The summit was a 1-day event that included keynote sessions and morning and afternoon working group sessions. Keynote speakers
were 4 local and national experts, advocates, and supporters of cancer survivorship. Topics
were patient navigation, advocacy, a review of the work by the MCCCC that led to the summit, and personal stories.
Ten working group session topics were identified (Table). The goal of each session was to explore the most productive ways to institute system-level change for
solving problems related to each working group topic. During each session, a trained facilitator, an SWG member, first explained the charge to participants. This was followed by a 15-minute presentation by a local content area expert who described
current evidence on the topic. The
remainder of each session was a facilitated group discussion in which participants formulated and prioritized action plans. The desired product of each working group was a list of specific cancer survivorship problems to
solve and 2 to 3 proposed system-level action plans to solve them. System-level action plans were defined as evidence-based intervention strategies, such as an organization or policy
that could affect an entire system.
The Table describes the problems and action plans identified by each working group. Overall, 26 system-level action plans were identified
and categorized into 5 major domains: 1) providing services within patient navigation programs; 2)
offering formal training programs for providers, volunteers, and human resources; 3) providing ready access to information; 4) advocating for policy changes; and 5) developing standardized protocols and
documents, such as treatment summaries and care plans.
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At the end of the summit, participants completed a brief survey to rate their experiences. The survey assessed participants’ 1) demographic characteristics, 2)
role in cancer survivorship (ie, cancer survivor, health care professional, caregiver, or other support), and 3) reasons for coming to the summit.
They were asked if the summit met their expectations, if their voices were heard, and
if the summit helped them
advocate for cancer survivorship issues. Participants also rated each summit session and the summit overall.
Analysis of participants
In total, 220 participants attended the summit, 144 of whom (65%) completed
an evaluation form. Most
were female (93%), aged 50 or older (64%), and non-Hispanic
white (85%); approximately 11% of participants were non-Hispanic
black. Approximately 61% of participants identified themselves as cancer survivors,
and 66% indicated that they attended the summit in a professional role (eg, clinician, researcher, professional
cancer advocate). Approximately one-third of participants (34%) were both cancer survivors and professionals.
The most common reasons that participants attended the summit were wanting to learn more about cancer survivorship
issues (65%), having an interest in a specific topic on the summit agenda (55%), wanting to network (48%), and wanting to make a difference (42%).
Participant ratings of the summit were positive. The majority reported the
following: the summit met their expectations (90%), there was opportunity for their voices to be heard (81%), and
attending the summit
would better help them advocate for cancer survivorship issues (84%). The strategies chosen at the working group sessions
were rated excellent or very good (81% for the morning session and 76% for the
afternoon session). Eighty-nine percent rated the summit overall as excellent or very good.
Ratings of the summit did not vary by participant demographics. However, there were differences according to professional versus nonprofessional status. Compared with professionals, nonprofessionals were less likely to
1) say they were extremely satisfied with the strategies decided on in the morning session (56% vs
30%, P = .006) and in the afternoon session (65% vs 40%, P = .004),
2) rate as excellent the extent to which the summit met their expectations (44% vs 29%, P = .05),
3) rate as excellent the extent to which the summit would help them advocate for cancer survivorship issues (43% vs 17%, P
= .003), and 4) rate the summit overall as excellent (60% vs 42%, P = .05). There were no differences between the groups in reporting as excellent the extent to which they believed their voices were heard.
The SWG used frequency distributions to describe each variable and compared each of the 6 summit ratings
by participant characteristics. Each rating variable was dichotomized to compare participants who rated variables excellent/extremely
satisfied with those who did not. Cross-tabulations were computed and Fisher exact tests were used to assess significant differences.
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A survivorship summit is a feasible, effective way to enlist community input
to drive the mission, strategic planning efforts, and priorities of cancer
coalition and advocacy groups. On the basis of the usefulness of the action plans identified, the results of the evaluation, and the perceptions of the staff, the MCCCC Survivorship Summit was a success.
The summit ran smoothly, and the overall format was well received. Only 1
working group session was cancelled. In their survey evaluations, some participants expressed the need for
longer discussion periods during the work group sessions. For example, because of limited time, the quality-of-life work group discussion focused mainly on pain.
The system-level action plans reflect the need for strategies
to 1) develop patient navigation programs that meet the needs of cancer
survivors; 2) improve access to information and services for cancer survivors and caregivers; 3) train health care and other service providers and volunteers to
help cancer survivors and caregivers during all phases of survivorship, including posttreatment
phases; 4) advocate for policy changes; and 5) develop standardized protocols and documents (eg, treatment summaries and care plans). The priority areas include changes in policies that highlight the importance of advocacy and the need for training in this area.
Several lessons learned can improve the success of future similar efforts. Sufficient resources and highly committed personnel
are necessary to help develop each component and to conduct activities at the summit.
Investment of coalition members is essential, and a planning period of at least 1 year is required. Adequate personnel are needed
particularly at crunch time to ensure the smooth running of summit plans. In the MCCCC summit, graduate students
were available to assist with the workload through the academic affiliations of some summit planners.
Achieving geographic representation from across the state was difficult, even though Massachusetts is a small state and the summit
was near a major highway. Most participants were from within the county where
the summit was held or the 3 adjacent counties. Participants from
more distant counties were more likely to be professionals than nonprofessionals. To achieve geographic
representation, summit planning efforts should include finding resources to pay for transportation for people who are not geographically close and coordinating with local organizations and advocacy groups to promote options (eg, chartering buses, carpooling). In larger states, regional summits may be more appropriate to assure that different geographic regions are represented.
The summit was not as well received by nonprofessionals as it was by professionals.
We may not have adequately communicated the purpose of the summit. The goal was for participants to identify coalition
priorities, not to provide information or resources. To prevent misunderstandings, all correspondence regarding such a summit should include clear objectives for the summit,
state what the expectations are for participants, and pilot test these materials with the intended audience.
The evaluation protocol for this summit has limitations. Evaluation was conducted only immediately after the summit concluded. Longer-term evaluation of the summit’s effects on attendees would have been useful. For the SWG, the summit has been translated into long-term work plans, but no separate evaluation of effects of the identified action plans on the work and advocacy priorities
members were conducted.
The MCCCC Survivorship Summit can guide future efforts of this coalition. The summit also
allowed the coalition to recruit additional members; attendees who
volunteered to work on any action plans were noted during the summit and will be
contacted to participate in the implementation of these plans. After the summit, action plans were disseminated to all summit participants via e-mail and mail.
During the next 5 years, the SWG will implement these action plans across
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Funding for the MCCCC Survivorship Summit was provided in part by a cooperative agreement from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Prevention and Control Program grant to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Program. Funding was also provided by
the American Cancer Society, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Women’s Health Network and Men’s Health Partnership and Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, Bayer HealthCare,
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Massachusetts Cancer Prevention Community Research Network, New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and Pfizer Oncology.
We thank Snaltze
Pierre, coordinator of the MCCCC, for assistance in coordinating work of the
SWG and the SPC. We thank the other
members of the SPC for
implementing this program, including Janice McGrath, SWG cochair; Zana Baruch; Cindy Blood; Lila Brady; Diane Cotting; Carol Curtiss; Kathy Hart; Lynne Graziano Morin; Marcie Saganov; and Palmira Santos. We thank Green Associates, LLC, for assistance in coordinating summit planning and implementation. We thank Joyce Kulhawik, Harold P. Freeman, Palmira Santos, Harriet Chandler, and Susan Quinones for participating as keynote speakers. We
thank Seana Quental, Sarah Hunt, and Italo
Brown for their assistance with preparing and implementing activities; Andrew Prout for his technical assistance; Jane Hilbert Davis for training facilitators; the volunteers who served as local content experts, working group facilitators, and recorders;
and summit participants.
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Corresponding Author: Stephenie C. Lemon, PhD, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Ave. North, Worcester, MA 01655. Telephone: 508-856-4098. E-mail:
Dr Lemon is also a member of the Survivorship Working Group of the Massachusetts
Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition.
Author Affiliations: Marianne N. Prout, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; Junaidah
B. Barnett, Tufts University School of Medicine and the Friedman School of
Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts; Maureen Sullivan
Flynn, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Lance Armstrong Foundation Adult
Survivorship Clinic, Boston, Massachusetts. Prout, Barnett, and Flynn are also members of the Survivorship Working Group
of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition.
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