Community Capacity Assessment Project

Examining the Inter-Organizational Relationships of the St. Louis Cancer Services Provider Network



Each year there are more than 2,400 new cases of breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer diagnosed in minority and underserved populations in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The area, like many other metropolitan areas, has several organizations and agencies that provide services for cancer prevention and treatment. It is important that these entities work together to ensure that any gaps in care and support services are addressed.


In 2007, PECaD collaborated with the Center for Tobacco Policy Research (CTPR) at Washington University to conduct a social network analysis of St. Louis cancer support service providers. The purpose of this analysis was to describe the network of cancer support service providers in the metropolitan area for minority and underserved patients and examine how network agencies interact and collaborate with each other.

Agencies included in this analysis were those that provided support services to breast, colorectal, prostate and lung cancer patients and their families. Major network measures included level of awareness of other agencies, frequency of contact and referral patterns across the network. Other measures included types of cancers addressed, services provided, geographic areas covered and barriers to working with agencies.


A majority of the partner agencies (82 percent) provided services addressing more than one type of cancer. Over half (64 percent) provided services addressing all four cancer types. Overall, the St. Louis cancer services network was well-connected related to agencies’ level of general awareness of each other and frequency of contact. However, the level of patient referrals across agencies was low. Although general awareness was high in the network, agencies identified a lack of awareness of specific cancer support services provided by other agencies as a major barrier to collaborating.

There was a lack of services to address housing needs for cancer patients and their families. About half as many agencies were working with patients in the Metro East area of Illinois compared to the other geographic regions. Based on information collected, a guide to cancer service providers was developed and disseminated with network agencies to foster collaborations across agencies.

The project developed the following recommendations to help strengthen the network and reduce cancer disparities in St. Louis:

  1. Continue to identify network agencies throughout the St. Louis region in order to develop a more comprehensive inventory
  2. Disseminate a guide describing agencies in the network, their services and coverage area so they may efficiently and effectively refer patients to appropriate and available resources
  3. Assess the extent of the housing service needs with cancer patients and their families and identify additional resources or strategies to address the need
  4. Assess cancer service needs in the Metro East region and assist current service providers in reaching this population


PECaD: NCI—U01CA114594

Project Staff

Douglas Luke, PhD (Director, Washington University)
Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH (Co-Investigator, Washington University)
Dione Farria, MD, MPH (Co-Investigator, Washington University)
Jenine Harris, PhD (Analyst, Saint Louis University)
Nancy Mueller, MPH (Project Manager, Washington University)
Gowri Shetty, MS, MPH (Arizona Department of Health Services, formerly with Washington University)

Contact Information

Jenine Harris, PhD
Phone: 314-977-8210