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UWF faculty help write the rules on cancer prevention in Florida

An interdisciplinary team of faculty from UWF has served as the program evaluation team for the Florida Department of Health’s Cancer Prevention and Control Implementation Program since 2018. The team’s contract was recently renewed after it received strong feedback from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which funds the initiative.

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“This partnership is fundamentally about making our communities healthier,” said Dr. Angela Hahn, co-investigator and faculty member in the Department of Health Sciences and Administration. “It shows how working together — universities, government and healthcare providers — brings real benefits to society.”

The team is led by Dr. Brandy Strahan, the principal investigator and a faculty member in UWF’s School of Nursing, and includes Hahn, Dr. Maureen Howard, instructor in UWF’s Department of Movement Sciences and Health, and Dr. Samantha Seals, associate professor in UWF’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The team develops evaluation plans, designs and revises data collection methods, analyzes data, establishes performance indicators and prepares comprehensive reports. These reports, such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program Evaluation Report for Florida and the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan for Florida, are essential for program enhancement.

The team’s renewed contract for $680,000 for four more years and feedback from the CDC indicate it is performing exceptionally well. Debra Vinci was principal investigator with Strahan, who was co-principal investigator, on the original grant from the Florida Department of Health, awarded in January 2018.

“When we applied for the initial grant funding, we looked at this as an opportunity to establish an interdisciplinary research team across the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health and also reach out to colleagues in the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering,” Vinci said.

“When evaluating public health programs, you need many skill sets that no one person can usually fill. So, it was important to develop a team with areas of expertise including health program planning, nursing, health science, health policy, healthcare administration, public health, data mining and data analytics, and statistics for effective program evaluation to occur. Over the years, it has been very rewarding to see how seamlessly we were all able to work together and truly enjoy what collaborative teamwork is all about. I stepped down as PI in 2021 for Dr. Strahan and Dr. Hahn to take over this important work. It is exciting to see how the team’s program evaluation skills have developed since 2018 and having the contract renewed for four more years. Most importantly, recent CDC feedback reinforced achieving our initial vision in developing an interdisciplinary health-related research team at UWF.”

The program evaluation work provides feedback for guiding the implementation of the Florida Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and the delivery of cancer programs across the state of Florida.

“The success of the cancer program evaluation demonstrates our team’s dedication to public health and cancer prevention in the state,” Strahan said. “It brings a sense of fulfillment both personally and professionally that we are making a difference.”

For more information about UWF’s Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, visit uwf.edu/hmcse.

For more information about UWF’s Usha Kundu, MD College of Health, visit uwf.edu/ukcoh.