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Linking Agents' Activities and Communication Patterns in a Study of the Dissemination of an Effective Skin Cancer Prevention Program

Hall, Dawn; Dubruiel, Nicole; Elliott, Tom; Glanz, Karen

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September-October 2009 - Volume 15 - Issue 5 - p 409–415
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181952178
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Background Linking agents connect program developers with end users, enhancing implementation and sustainability of health promotion programs. However, little is known about how linkage systems work in practice and research settings.

Objective This article describes the activities and communication patterns of field coordinators in a 4-year, national study of the dissemination of an effective skin cancer prevention program.

Methods Descriptive and content analyses were completed for all e-mails between field coordinators and program staff and for field coordinator activity logs.

Results A total of 5 215 e-mails were sent to or from 62 field coordinators from 2003 to 2006. E-mails most often concerned program administration, data collection, and management of program materials. The most common activities recorded in activity logs were communication with program staff and study sites, management of surveys, and delivery and management of program materials.

Conclusion Field coordinators carried out activities related to program administration and data collection across a large number of study sites. The high volume of e-mails and their emphasis on program administration issues demonstrate the importance of communication between program staff and field coordinators. It is recommended that public health researchers and practitioners implement similar linkage systems when taking effective programs to scale.

This article describes the activities and communication patterns of field coordinators in the implementation, maintenance, and sustainability of a skin cancer prevention program.

Dawn Hall, MPH, is Senior Research Project Coordinator at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Dawn has been a part of the Pool Cool program research team since 2005 and is involved in program development and management, as well as data analysis. Her current research focuses on sun safety and sun safety environments in outdoor pool settings.

Nicole Dubruiel, MPH, is Senior Research Project Coordinator at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Her current work focuses on the built environment in relation to physical activity, transportation, and eating behaviors.

Tom Elliott, MPH, has worked in cancer prevention research since 2001 at both the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, is Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and Epidemiology, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Research Scholar, and Director of the Emory Prevention Research Center at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Dr Glanz's current research emphasizes understanding and improving healthy environments and behaviors, especially related to nutrition and obesity, skin cancer prevention, cancer screening, and tobacco control.

Corresponding Author: Dawn Hall, MPH, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd, NE, Room 521, Atlanta, GA 30322 (dmhall@sph.emory.edu).

Disclaimer: The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Funding for this study was provided through the National Cancer Institute (NCI grant CA 92505).

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.