DEFINING TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH IN CANCER PREVENTION AND EARLY DETECTION

Research on ways to promote the widespread adoption of evidence-based prevention and early detection interventions generally falls under the rubric of cancer control research, health services research, or, more specifically, applied or translational research. The definition of cancer control research has evolved over time but generally involves behavioral, social, and population sciences and spans the continuum of interventions aimed at cancer, from dietary recommendations for the prevention of cancer to the use of palliative care services to alleviate suffering at the end of life (Box 10.1).

Health services research is a multidisciplinary field of inquiry, both basic and applied, that examines the use, costs, quality, accessibility, delivery, organization, financing, and outcomes of health care services to increase knowledge and understand the structure, processes, and effects of health services for individuals and populations (Institute of Medicine, 1995a). Both cancer control and health services research can be defined broadly to include behavioral and psychological research, evaluations of programs that may fall outside the purview of the traditional health care systems (e.g., school-based health programs), and randomized controlled clinical trials (e.g., studies of the effectiveness of health care technologies in situations representative of community practice).

Other disciplines and research frameworks such as those from sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science are also relevant to cancer prevention and early detection. A hallmark of such research is its

BOX 10.1 Evolving Definition of Cancer Control Research

  • Cancer research seeks to find the means for combating cancer, whereas cancer control is concerned with identifying, community testing, evaluating, and promoting the application of cancer control means that are found (1975).

  • Cancer control research is the reduction of cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality through an orderly sequence from research on interventions and their impacts in defined populations to the broad, systematic application of the research results (1985).

  • Cancer control encompasses a full spectrum of research in the behavioral, social, epidemiological, and population sciences aimed at creating or enhancing interventions that, by themselves or in combination with biomedical approaches, reduce cancer risk, incidence, morbidity, and mortality, and improve quality of life (2000).

SOURCE: Hiatt and Rimer (1999) and National Cancer Institute (2000b).



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