Project COALESCE-An Example of Academic Institutions as Conveners of Community-Clinic Partnerships to Improve Cancer Screening Access

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 15;19(2):957. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19020957.


In Virginia, 56% of colorectal cancers (CRC) are diagnosed late, making it one of three enduring CRC mortality hotspots in the US. Cervical cancer (CCa) exhibits a similar pattern, with 48% late-stage diagnosis. Mortality for these cancers is worse for non-Latinx/e(nL)-Black people relative to nL-White people in Virginia, but preventable with equitable screening access and timely diagnostic follow-up. However, structural barriers, such as fractured referral systems and extended time between medical visits, remain. Because Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) care for a large proportion of racial and ethnic minorities, and underserved communities, regardless of ability to pay, they are ideal partners to tackle structural barriers to cancer screenings. We piloted a quality improvement initiative at five FQHCs in southcentral Virginia to identify and address structural, race-related barriers to CRC, as well as CCa screening and diagnostic follow-up using evidence-based approaches. Uniquely, FQHCs were paired with local community organizations in a didactic partnership, to elevate the community's voice while together, increase support, acceptance, uptake, and intervention sustainability. We report on project development, and share preliminary data within the context of project goals, namely, to increase cancer screenings by 5-10%, improve knowledge and diagnostic follow-up processes, and build longitudinal partnerships.

Keywords: academic-community partnership; cervical neoplasm; colorectal neoplasm; community health centers; community organizations; community outreach and engagement; didactic partnerships; early detection of cancer; implementation science; quality improvement collaborative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Quality Improvement
  • Referral and Consultation