MIAMI — Cancer disparities persist across racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic lines. Several factors contribute to the disparity in health care, including differences in culture, education and financial resources. Other factors include language barriers, limited access to health care and lack of health literacy.
As part of the Third AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the division of general medicine at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine in Florida, will host a press conference on Friday, Oct. 1, at 6:00 p.m. in the Cowrie 2 Room of the Loews Hotel in Miami.
The researchers participating in this press conference will discuss contributing factors and successful strategies to address cancer disparities.
“Studies have repeatedly shown that doctors overestimate the health literacy of their patients, and that includes not only reading, but also the understanding of health concepts,” Carrasquillo said. “I think health communication is critical as part of the overall push to tackle some of these disparities.”
“You need to target your message to the end user,” Carrasquillo said. “If you have people that don’t look like you or don’t use the same kind of words you use, you can be turned off of the health message. The concept that one-size-fits-all — one educational message is appropriate for all age groups, all racial-ethnic groups, and all genders — really needs to be reexamined.”
Carrasquillo said the studies presented at this press conference are good examples of tailoring the message to the audience to increase health literacy.
B6. Social marketing intervention to increase HPV vaccine utilization among Hispanic girls: Preliminary data
All women are at risk for cervical cancer, but Hispanic women have the highest incidence of cervical cancer, followed by African-American, white, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Moreover, African-American and Hispanic women are more likely to die from this cancer than other women. Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most cervical cancers. There are now two vaccines against the strains of HPV that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, explained Pamela C. Hull, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Health Research at Tennessee State University. Yet, many Hispanics are unaware of this prevention strategy.
Hull reported the results of a study using social marketing interventions to increase HPV vaccination among Hispanic girls.
“The goal is to speed up the dissemination of the vaccine among the Hispanic population to help reduce and cut some of that disparity between Hispanics and whites,” said Hull.
“We developed an intervention using the social marketing approach, combining that message with traditional marketing techniques for selling products,” she said. “But instead of selling products, we are telling people to do something. And in this particular intervention, we are trying to encourage parents to take their daughters to get vaccinated with the HPV vaccine.”
They created partnerships with community organizations and other universities to develop and implement the research. Before they developed the message and the medium, they held focus groups and found that public service messages on Spanish-language radio would be the best way to reach their target audience — parents of Hispanic girls that are 11 to 18 years old.
In addition, they distributed printed posters and flyers within the Hispanic community.
The message appealed to the protective role of parents, as well as their desire to see their children lead a better life, she explained. The story line featured a couple sending their 11-year-old daughter off to school and talking about how quickly she has grown. One parent tells the other that the mother of the daughter’s girlfriend got her vaccinated against cervical cancer, and they considered the vaccine for their daughter.
The CDC developed the message on the brochures and flyers and the researchers added a local phone number for more information about the vaccine.
“We found in the focus group that many of the parents came to this country for a better life for themselves and their families. That is what we addressed in the message,” she said, “the fact that you come to this country to give your child a better life and a better future and part of that [mission] is ensuring her good health so she can achieve those goals.”
Hull said the message has resonated with the audience.
“When we did the focus groups, we found that most people [in the Hispanic community] didn’t even know that the vaccine existed,” she said. “Few people even knew what HPV was. Just getting the word out there should make a big impact.”
Reporters who cannot attend in person can participate using the following information:
U.S. and Canada: (888) 282-7404
International: (706) 679-5207
Access Code: 97083331