Medically underserved populations continue to be disproportionately burdened by cancer. The exact reason for this disparity has not been fully elucidated, but likely involves multiple factors. We explored the potential utility of a novel community-based cancer education program called Forum Theater (FT), aimed at raising awareness about colorectal (CRC) and cervical cancer (CxC) screening among African-American, Hispanic, and Vietnamese populations. We also determined audience likelihood of obtaining CRC and CxC screening in the 6 months following performances. Thirty FT performances were held between September 2011 and July 2012. A brief survey was administered at each performance, eliciting responses on key CRC and CxC screening questions. A total of 662 community residents (316 Hispanic, 165 African-American, and 181 Vietnamese; overall mean age 50.3 ± 16.4) participated in performances. The survey response rate was 71.1 %. After seeing FT performances, the majority responded correctly (>70 %) on CRC and CxC screening questions. In comparison to Hispanic and Vietnamese participants, African-Americans were less likely to report that CRC and CxC are preventable (p < 0.05), that timely and regular screening saves lives (p = 0.05), and that CxC screening should begin at age 21 for most women (p < 0.05). Our findings suggest that FT may be an effective strategy to disseminate cancer screening information. Lack of awareness that CRC/CxC screening saves lives and that CRC/CxC is preventable, as reported by African-Americans, may not stem from lack of knowledge or misconceptions alone, but may be influenced by a sense of fatalism regarding cancer outcomes in this population.
- Cancer prevention and education
- Cervical cancer screening
- Colorectal cancer screening
- Forum Theater
- Medically underserved
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health