Reducing Environmental and Occupational Cancer Risks Toolkit

3. Engage Experts 

Engaging experts is a necessary step in identifying priority targets for cancer risk reduction; data alone is insufficient for prioritization. 

Data can communicate the scope of the issue, as well as illuminate the root causes of environmental health concerns. However, data alone cannot determine priorities; expert knowledge helps to contribute to a more robust picture. 

Expertise is not limited to individuals with direct professional experience on a given topic (e.g., academic researchers or government officials), but also encompasses community-based organizations and individuals. Community experts have a higher degree of on-the-ground relevance on a given environmental cancer issue. Since expert knowledge is necessary for priority-setting, fostering equitable partnerships with members of the community is crucial.

The lived experience of community members is especially important in identifying a response to an environmental health threat. For instance: epidemiological data can uncover that there is (x) number of environmental carcinogens impacting air quality in a given community, but that information alone cannot inform an intervention strategy without community expertise. Residents know what environmental concerns plague their everyday lives; these are very real experiences that may or may not be borne out by analysis of empirical data. Obtaining inclusive expert knowledge provides additional detail and context to the problems to be solved and is particularly useful in developing interventions (the focus of Module 4).

To support prioritizing targets for environmental carcinogen risk reduction in your state plan, make sure to use experts in your cancer coalition and other key partners. In the toolkit’s Resources section for Module 2, a comprehensive list of organizations with crucial content expertise and other key partners to consider inviting into your coalition is outlined.

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