Social networks influence health behavior and health status. Within social networks, “key players” often influence those around them, particularly in traditionally underserved areas like the Appalachian region in the USA. From a total sample of 787 Appalachian residents, we identified and interviewed 10 key players in complex networks, asking them what comprises a key player, their role in their network and community, and ideas to overcome and increase colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. Key players emphasized their communication skills, resourcefulness, and special occupational and educational status in the community. Barriers to CRC screening included negative perceptions of the colonoscopy screening procedure, discomfort with the medical system, and misinformed perspectives on screening. Ideas to improve screening focused on increasing awareness of women's susceptibility to CRC, providing information on different screening tests, improving access, and the key role of health-care providers and key players themselves. We provide recommendations to leverage these vital community resources.

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Published in International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, v. 11, issue 1, 30396, p. 1-13.

© 2016 N. E. Schoenberg et al.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

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This work was supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, through grant UL1TR000117 (at the University of Kentucky); the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health through grant P30CA016058 (Behavioral Measurement Shared Resource at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center); and UL1-RR025755 (the Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science).