Introduction: More research is needed to understand the role of social support and social networking in addressing the unmet needs experienced by African American cancer survivors, as well as the effects of such programs. A study of low income African American cancer survivors documented their need for support services, especially emotional support, in their own neighborhoods. Our study continues this work to explore the unmet needs and challenges of this population. Methods: We conducted five 90-minute focus groups with cancer survivors, and 1 focus group and 5 interviews with service providers and key informant leaders. Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcripts were checked for accuracy and maintained in MAXQDA. Transcripts were independently coded while the team collectively discussed interpretations, created corresponding codes, and categorized codes into larger representative groups. Results: Twenty-six participants have completed a focus group or interview to date (n =16 survivors, n=10 key informants). Survivor participants’ ages range from 44 to 78 years. Survivor participants’ cancer types are primarily breast, but also includes colon and lung, among others. Key informant interviews included oncologists, nurses, navigators, and peer leaders. Key topics that emerged were health literacy, treatment costs, limited support groups, and community resources. As one key informant describes, “A lot of the African- American cancer survivors that I've worked with, they don't have -They're not given enough resources. They don't know about the Nurse Navigators, they don't know about a lot of things that they -They don't know about American Cancer Society (sic) or, you know, the things that are offered to them.” Yet other survivors have leveraged the expertise of their peers through cancer support groups to meet their needs. As one survivor describes, “the most helpful thing that I've found once I was diagnosed was [to] meet another woman who was also diagnosed. That was the most helpful thing I found.” Conclusions: African American cancer survivors face many challenges and unmet needs around survivorship care. Our next step is to develop an intervention that raise awareness of minority-led support groups; improve the knowledge and availability of community resources; and connect individuals to local resources.
Citation Format: Jamila L. Kwarteng, Staci Young, Bria Grant, Melinda R. Stolley. The African American Cancer Survivor Network study: Utilizing social support and social networks to address unmet needs and challenges of African American cancer survivors [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Virtual Conference: Thirteenth AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; 2020 Oct 2-4. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020;29(12 Suppl):Abstract nr PO-039.