Extent of Inclusion of “Rural” in Comprehensive Cancer Control Plans in the United States
The National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program requires states, territories, and tribal organizations to develop comprehensive cancer control plans (CCCPs). In 2019, the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services released a series of policy recommendations, including one recommending that CCCPs address rural cancer disparities. The objective of our study was to assess the extent to which jurisdictions considered “rural” in their CCCPs.
We reviewed the 66 CCCPs available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website as of January 2020 to assess their inclusion of rural across 7 elements: 1) cancer burden data, 2) reduction of cancer disparities, 3) rural population description, 4) rural definition, 5) goals, 6) objectives, and 7) strategies. We summarized these elements by plan type (state or territory/tribal organization). For state CCCPs, we also compared the number of element types and the inclusion of rural-specific strategies by the percentage of the state’s population that was rural and the rural cancer mortality rate.
Of 66 plans, 45 included a mention of rural in at least 1 element, including 38 of 50 state plans and 7 of 16 territory/tribal organization plans. Reduction of cancer disparities was the most common element noted. Less than one-third of all CCCPs included a rural-specific strategy. States with a high rural cancer mortality rate tended to have at least 1 rural-specific strategy.
Technical and financial support to improve rural data inclusion and implementation of rural-specific strategies in CCCPs may help improve the inclusion of rural data and strategy development.