African Americans, one of the largest minorities in the country fare worse in colorectal cancer morbidity and mortality when compared to several other races and often have negative perceptions to screening (Greiner, et al. 2005). Research indicates religion and spirituality as components that should be considered when appealing to individuals about health and making health decisions (Egbert, Mickley, Coeling, 2004). African Americans in particular are highly religious and also regularly attend church services more than any group in the country (Pew, 2007). The goals then of the proposed 5-year study are to obtain crucial preliminary data beyond the Minority Supplement that show the African American church as an important vehicle of cancer communication among African Americans. The central hypothesis of this overall research plan is that church-sponsored messages will have greater impact on cancer screening behavior outcome and will be more appealing to African Americans than traditional cancer- sponsored screening messages. The proposed research is innovative because it capitalizes on the church and prevalent social and cultural norms to socially market the product of CRC screening to promote healthy behavior among African Americans. The trust and social cohesion within the church will promote health messages to motivate or persuade individuals to perform cancer screening. The outcomes of this research will be novel information about how religion and church-sponsored materials relate to perceptions and attitudes;and how religion and the church in CRC cancer screening messages impact screening behavior among African Americans. The findings and results of the proposed interdisciplinary research will benefit African Americans'health because the outcomes will lead to improve health campaigns and communications to targeted populations at risk for cancer disparities. First, a series of qualitative studies among church pastors and congregants will be necessary to formulate a survey instrument to measure perceptions and attitudes about church-sponsored messages in CRC cancer communication materials disseminated via church networks and traditional media networks. Second, the newly developed instrument will be administered to a sample of church- going and church-affiliated individuals to further assess and quantify attitudes and perceptions. Third, a pilot intervention will be conducted to test the impact of church-sponsored messages on perceptions and CRC cancer preventive behaviors. This study is strategically designed to build new understanding of the impact of the church and religiosity on perceptions and behavior that will help the optimization of CRC cancer screening among this population.
African Americans die or suffer from colorectal cancer disproportionately when compared to other races in the U.S. Because African Americans are one of the largest groups that report high religious attendance, this study examines the influence of the African American church in increasing colorectal cancer screening among this population. The church is examined as a sponsor of cancer screening promotion compared to traditional cancer organizations (e.g. American Cancer Society) that promote prevention and screening.
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