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Keywords:

  • [social network;
  • health care disparities;
  • cancer screening]

The Tampa Bay Community Cancer Network (TBCCN) is one of the Community Network Program sites funded (2005–10) by the National Cancer Institute's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. TBCCN was tasked to form a sustainable, community-based partnership network focused on the goal of reducing cancer health disparities among racial–ethnic minority and medically underserved populations. This article reports evaluation outcome results from a social network analysis and discusses the varying TBCCN partner roles—in education, training, and research—over a span of three years (2007–09). The network analysis included 20 local community partner organizations covering a tricounty area in Southwest Florida. In addition, multiple externally funded, community-based participatory research pilot projects with community–academic partners have either been completed or are currently in progress, covering research topics including culturally targeted colorectal and prostate cancer screening education, patient navigation focused on preventing cervical cancer in rural Latinas, and community perceptions of biobanking. The social network analysis identified a trend toward increased network decentralization based on betweenness centrality and overall increase in number of linkages, suggesting network sustainability. Degree centrality, trust, and multiplexity exhibited stability over the three-year time period. These results suggest increased interaction and interdependence among partner organizations and less dependence on the cancer center. Social network analysis enabled us to quantitatively evaluate partnership network functioning of TBCCN in terms of network structure and information and resources flows, which are integral to understanding effective coalition practice based on Community Coalition Action Theory (Butterfoss and Kegler 2009). Sharing the results of the social network analysis with the partnership network is an important component of our coalition building efforts. A comprehensive baseline needs assessment for the next five-year funding phase (2010–15) of TBCCN Community Networks Program Centers (CNP Center) is under way to further evaluate the growth and sustainability of the partnership network, with an emphasis on community-based intervention research that takes into account culture and literacy.