C3I Expands Consortium to Help Cancer Patients Quit Smoking

C3I Map - 3 cohorts

Dr. Betsy Rolland
Dr. Betsy Rolland

UW-CTRI staff and collaborators attended the virtual 2020 grantee meeting of the nationwide Cancer Center Cessation Initiative (C3I), part of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Cancer Moonshot Initiative, with the goal of helping cancer patients to quit tobacco use.

The meeting included representatives from NCI, UW-CTRI, C3I, and 52 C3I cancer centers. This included:

  • 10 new C3I funded centers.
  • 42 centers in the first two cohorts, 31 of whom no longer receive C3I funding.
  • 11 centers who have extended funding for one year.

Typically in healthcare, what gets paid for gets done, so the fact that so many centers have remained engaged in the project after C3I funding ceased shows the level of commitment to helping cancer patients quit tobacco use, and to working together.

“We continue to show value, to add value to their work,” said UW-CCC Assistant Director and Principal Investigator of the C3I Coordinating Center Dr. Betsy Rolland. “They learn new things, discuss programs with their colleagues. It’s not limited to the cancer centers from the cohorts; anyone who is doing tobacco cessation with cancer patients can be part of this consortium. It’s an incredible network.”

Dr. Robert Croyle
Dr. Robert Croyle

The goal is to integrate tobacco treatment into oncology care in a sustainable way. NCI requests a commitment up front from the cancer centers to sustain this integration past funding timelines, and C3I helps them do so using electronic health records and other tools that can prompt tobacco intervention and facilitate it without burden or staff fatigue.

Among the speakers were Dr. Robert Croyle, director of the NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Science. Croyle discussed how President-elect Joe Biden brokered the bi-partisan deal for the Cancer Moonshot in 2016 to honor of his late son Beau Biden, who died of cancer. The Cancer Moonshot is part of the 21st Century Cures Act passed in December 2016, which authorized $1.8 billion in funding for the Cancer Moonshot over 7 years. Croyle is eager to share with the President-elect an update on how C3I has put its part of that funding to good use to help cancer patients quit tobacco.

Dr. Ned Sharpless
Dr. Ned Sharpless

NCI Director Dr. Ned Sharpless also addressed C3I meeting attendees, calling C3I a model for a research consortium.

From September 2018-September 2020, there have been 54 total C3I publications and presentations—including 22 journal articles as well as 32 posters and presentations at 20 different conferences.

And they’re not done yet. The grantees have formed six working groups with cross-network activities. Co-chairs of the working groups presented at the grantee meeting.

“The groups host monthly meetings, open to anyone within C3I or other researchers who are interested in the topic,” Rolland said. For example, the Family Systems and Equity and Diversity groups are collaborating on educational materials for families of patients who smoke, with an emphasis on families of various disparity groups. It’s another sign of stability and commitment. “That’s really exciting,” Rolland said.

Former C3I Researcher Dr. Heather D’Angelo moved to NCI as a program director. She’s serving as the NCI liaison to these working groups. “We miss her,” Rolland said, “but are super happy for her.”

Sarah Hohl
Sarah Hohl, PhD

With D’Angelo in her new role, UW-CCC has hired Assistant Scientist Dr. Sarah Hohl. Hohl leads efforts to evaluate reach, effectiveness, and sustainability of evidence-based tobacco cessation interventions across C3I. Hohl garnered a PhD in health services with an emphasis in social determinants of health and health behavior and an MPH in global health from the University of Washington and a BA in Spanish from Xavier University in Cincinnati.

“Everyone has been incredibly kind and welcoming, both within C3I and in general at UW-Madison,” Hohl said. “I was concerned about starting a new job remotely, but my orientation has been comprehensive, thoughtful, enlightening and even fun!”

Hohl is an expert in multisite transdisciplinary team science, implementation science and mixed methods approaches to evaluating interventions that aim to improve health and health services delivery. In her postdoctoral research, she evaluated adoption, feasibility, and sustainability of evidence-based interventions for cancer screening and screening disparities in Washington State federally qualified health centers. She is passionate about conducting community-based participatory research and community-engaged research to reduce disparities in tobacco use, cancer, and chronic disease among underserved populations.

“The national C3I meeting was an incredible opportunity for me as the new project scientist to learn how centers, their staff, and investigators are each making incredible contributions to a greater mission to improve and integrate tobacco cessation treatment into routine oncology care,” Hohl said. “I was impressed by the support for this initiative from all levels of research and practice and the creativity with which each site approaches tobacco treatment.

“One hour of the meeting was dedicated to breakout sessions for each cross-center working group to host an open house to promote collaboration among C3I members with common interests,” Hohl said. “I had the opportunity to attend the Diversity and Equity Working Group Open House, a group that represented 15 different sites across C3I where we discussed ways we may be able to, as a group, reduce disparities that exist at the intersection of tobacco cessation and cancer control. The experience highlighted to me that C3I is in a really unique position to leverage cross-site expertise, data sources, and contexts to advance the science and practice of tobacco cessation to improve outcomes of traditionally underserved cancer patient populations.”

The University of Wisconsin C3I team includes Rolland, Hohl, UW-CCC Coordinating Center Manager Danielle Pauk, UW-CTRI Director of Biostatistical Operations Dr. Stevens Smith, UW-CTRI Outreach Director Rob Adsit, UW-CTRI Director of Research Dr. Tim Baker, UW-CTRI Director Dr. Michael Fiore, and C3I Project Coordinator Mara Minion.

UW-CCC Members from UW-CTRI:

  • Dr. Tim Baker
  • Dr. Jessica Cook
  • Dr. Michael Fiore
  • Dr. Doug Jorenby
  • Dr. Jesse Kaye
  • Dr. Danielle McCarthy
  • Dr. Megan Piper
  • Dr. Adrienne Johnson