SESRCD Trains Psychologists and Other Behavioral and Social Science Volunteers (BSSVs) in the Fight Against Cancer Related Health Disparities

Since February, APA's Socioeconomic Status Related Cancer Disparities Program (SESRCD) has actively recruited a multidisciplinary and diverse group of behavioral and social science volunteers (BSSVs) from across the U.S. The program is a cooperative agreement between APA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address cancer prevention and control in underserved populations. Recognizing the important role psychologists and other behavioral and social scientists can play in supporting the efforts of community cancer serving organizations and stakeholders in combating cancer disparities in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, SESRCD has made developing and maintaining a network of BSSVs a major component of its activities. In June, 26 of the approximately 40 BSSVs recruited participated in the inaugural SESRCD-BSSV training held in New Orleans, Louisiana. The volunteers came from various disciplines, including: psychology, public health, anthropology, social work, and sociology, yet all were motivated to participate in a meaningful service opportunity.

Modeled after the American Psychological Association's Office on AIDS BSSV Training, the SESRCD-BSSV Training focused on orienting and preparing volunteers to offer capacity building assistance to comprehensive cancer control coalitions (CCCCs), community based organizations (CBOs), or health departments (HD) seeking to initiate or improve cancer prevention, early detection, and/or survivorship activities for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. SESRCD's CDC Project Officer Staci Lofton presented an overview of comprehensive cancer control in the US as well as current CDC priorities in addressing the cancer burden in underserved populations. The training also introduced volunteers to major components of SESRCD that will support BSSVs' work in providing capacity building assistance, including the National Translation and Dissemination Network (NTDN) and the Professional Development Training Resource (PDTR) Workshop entitled: "Reducing Cancer Disparities & Promoting Health Equity Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Populations." The interactive training allowed BSSVs to role play and respond to various scenarios and situations likely to come up when offering capacity building assistance to community cancer serving organizations.

A major highlight of the training was a panel discussion comprised of experienced Office on AIDS BSSVs and Melody Robinson, a representative from the Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. The Office on AIDS BSSVs shared their personal insights and gave specific examples of the challenges and rewards of the BSSV experience. Ms. Robinson painted a powerful picture of the cancer disparities and inequities in Louisiana at both the state and local levels. She also shared the unique challenges Louisiana faces in providing comprehensive cancer control services to socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

With the assistance of a trained BSSV, SESRCD believes professionals at community cancer serving organizations can more effectively focus their efforts to tackle behavioral, social, economic, cultural, and environmental barriers that often underlie cancer health disparities among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.