A national initiative to build the capacity of community cancer-serving organizations to address health disparities in treatment.

Following five successful years, the Office on Socioeconomic Status (OSES) sunset its grant funded collaboration with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Aug. 31, 2013.

Administered through the APA Public Interest Directorate, the SESRCD Program was a national initiative to build the capacity of community cancer-serving organizations to address health disparities in cancer through the adaptation and utilization of evidence-based cancer prevention and control efforts for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

SESRCD maintained that irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation, socioeconomically disadvantaged communities are disproportionately affected by cancer and have lower survival rates than their more socioeconomically affluent counterparts. In an effort to address cancer health disparities and to assist in efforts to meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 goal of eliminating cancer health disparities, in 2008, APA entered into a five year cooperative agreement with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (CDC-DCPC) to implement the Socioeconomic Status Related Cancer Disparities Program (SESRCD).



To strengthen the capacity of community cancer-serving organizations and stakeholders to access, adopt and utilize evidence and practice-based strategies to improve cancer prevention, early-detection and survivorship in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.


The primary goals of the SESRCD Program were to:

  1. Establish and maintain the infrastructure and strategic guidance necessary to support the systematic development and effective implementation of SESRCD activities.
  2. Develop and sustain a network of Behavioral and Social Science Volunteers (BSSVs) who provide community cancer-serving organizations and stakeholders with individualized capacity building assistance to access, adopt, adapt and utilize evidence-/practice-based strategies in addressing Socioeconomic Status (SES)-related cancer disparities.
  3. Develop, publish and disseminate a nationwide Professional Development Training Resource (PDTR) workshop designed to:
    • Increase participants' intentions to act on, and advocate for, systemic organizational climate change that facilitates the initiation and/or improvement of professional services that address SES-related cancer disparities
    • Provide participants with a process for carrying out their increased intentions to improve cancer prevention and control among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations 
  4. Develop and maintain a web-based network of community cancer serving organizations, stakeholders, and BSSVs to disseminate and translate professional development training activities into practice.


In 1971, United States Congress passed the National Cancer Act to advance the national effort against cancer, yet despite advances in the implementation of cancer prevention, early detection and treatment strategies, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the U.S. today. Additionally, stark disparities in cancer incidence and mortality are seen across socioeconomic and minority lines across the country, and are often caused by a complex interplay of social position, economic status, culture and environment (NCI, 2008). Socioeconomic indicators such as income, education and health insurance coverage influence cancer risk factors including, tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity (Institute of Medicine, 2003). For instance, for all cancers combined, residents of counties in the U.S. with a greater than 20 percent poverty rate have a 13 percent higher death rate in men and 3 percent higher death rate in women (Ward et al., 2004).

In response to growing public awareness about health disparities across the entire health spectrum, one of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overarching goals for Healthy People 2020 is to "to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups, regardless of differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, geographic location, or sexual orientation." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a leader in nationwide efforts to fulfill this goal of Healthy People 2020 as it relates specifically to the burden of cancer. The CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (CDC-DCPC) strives to "promote health equity as it relates to cancer control" and works with national cancer organizations, state health agencies and other key stakeholders to develop, implement and promote effective strategies for preventing and controlling cancer.

In an effort to assist national organizations develop, enhance and coordinate cancer prevention and control activities for underserved populations, CDC-DCPC issued program announcement DP08-815: National Organization Activities for Cancer Control in Underserved Populations in 2008. APA OSES responded to this announcement and was subsequently awarded a cooperative agreement to implement the SESRCD Program, modeled after long-standing successful APA-CDC collaborations such as the Behavioral and Social Science Volunteer (BSSV) Program (funded by CDC's Division on HIV and AIDS Prevention) and the Healthy Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Students Project (HLGBSP) (funded by CDC's Division on Adolescent School Health).

In line with Healthy People 2020, SESRCD focuses its efforts on socioeconomically disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by cancer and have lower survival rates than their more socioeconomically affluent counterparts. Although national in scope, SESRCD aims to be local in impact by conducting professional development training resource workshops, drawing on the expertise of a diverse national network of Behavioral and Social Science Volunteers (BSSVs), providing limited mini-grant funding, and encouraging collaborations through the use of an online web-based messaging forum. SESRCD aims to integrate theoretical research knowledge with real world applications and community action to forge strategic partnerships, mobilize existing community assets and use evidence-/practice-based strategies to impact systems that improve health outcomes and reduce cancer disparities in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.


CDC. (2008/2009). Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Facts (PDF, 236 KB).

National Cancer Institute. (2008). Cancer Health Disparities.

Institute of Medicine. (2003). Unequal treatment: confronting racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Washington, D.C.:  National Academy Press.

Ward, E., Jemal, A., Cokkinides, V., Singh, G.K., Cardinez, C., Ghafoor, A., and Thun, M. (2004). Cancer disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 54(2), 78-93.

News & Events
Cancer Stats
Contact SESRCD Staff