Stop and listen to the people: An enhanced approach to cancer cluster investigations

Brian W. Simpson, Patti Truant, Beth A. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer cluster investigations need to address the disconnect between traditional public health approaches and human needs. Cancer cluster investigations often magnify fear and uncertainty because they rarely find a definitive environmental cause. Traditional approaches emphasize population-level data analysis and undervalue active listening. Because few studies have explored active listening in cancer cluster investigations, we conducted a descriptive oral history case study of a Frederick, Maryland, investigation. We interviewed 12 community members and 9 public health professionals about the investigation of a perceived cancer cluster. Many believed it was linked to environmental contamination at Fort Detrick, a local US Army base. We propose enhanced active listening that seeks out peoples' perspectives, validates their concerns, and engages them in the investigative process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1204-1208
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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