Local Comprehensive Cancer Control Toolkit
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Strategic Planning Solutions

Quick Tips
  • Decide what you want to assess
  • Select data sources
  • Get input from community members
  • Collect, organize, and share the data
Tools & Resources

Examine the Data

Before developing a strategic plan, it is important to have an understanding of the primary issues impacting the cancer problem in your community, your community's health status, and its assets. Collect or refer to assessment data to identify the issues to help foster a sense of direction for your strategic plan and potential evidence-based prevention approaches to reduce the cancer burden in your communities.

Before compiling data, determine what you want to assess. Some coalitions choose only to look at the overall cancer incidence and mortality rates. Other coalitions complete more comprehensive community health needs assessments, including a look at community assets and the behavioral, environmental, policy, systems, and social factors contributing to the cancer burden. Good assessment data will give you a sense for the leading causes of cancer morbidity and mortality in your community, gaps in the health system from prevention to survivorship, and the underlying causes of cancer disparities in your community.

There are numerous resources for cancer-related community health assessments, such as State Cancer Profile or County Health Rankings, that provide state and county-level cancer risk factor, incidence, and mortality data. You can also consult Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data and cancer registry statistics to learn more about the cancer problem in your community. If your LHD has a community health improvement plan, you can consult it to obtain data to examine chronic disease outcomes. Some data may not be available through national databases, and you may need to collect primary data through formative research, including focus groups with community residents, surveys, key informant interviews, and other methods. In some states, CDC-funded NCCCP coalitions provide technical assistance to support local stakeholders in assessing community needs and strategizing cancer control and prevention efforts in response.

As you plan your assessment, think about how to include community partners and members who represent your target population. Community members have unique knowledge about the histories of their communities and the factors contributing to the cancer burden. As such, it is important to gain their perceptions of the needs, resources, and challenges in their communities, which can explain interesting trends you find in the data.

Once all of your data has been collected, analyze the information and organize it in a manner that can be publically shared. For some coalitions, this may mean developing reports, PowerPoint presentations, or factsheets that illustrate the cancer burden in your community and how it affects various demographic groups.

Explorative Questions

  • What members of our coalition should be involved in the assessment process?
  • What are we interested in learning from the assessment?
  • What sources of data are available to help answer our questions?
  • What methods are best to compile additional data?
  • What is the community's perceptions of the needs, resources, and challenges impacting the cancer burden?
  • What's the best way to share data collected from the assessment with coalition members and other stakeholders?