Center of Excellence for Cancer Research, Community Engagement/Outreach Core (CEOC)- Dr. Saleh M. M. Rahman. The mission of the CEOC is to develop, enhance, and strengthen partnerships with the Gadsden and Leon County African American communities to create a sustainable research and outreach environment for eliminating breast cancer disparities. The community engagement/outreach core has envisioned the following Aims: (1) Build capacity of academic and community partners to conduct Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to reduce breast cancer disparities;(2) Develop, implement and evaluate theory-driven, culturally sensitive outreach activities to improve health literacy, breast cancer screening and awareness of breast cancer disparity;and (3) Provide culturally appropriate outreach services to community members, support local outreach efforts and disseminate breast cancer and health information. This mission will be accomplished by the following processes: 1) Implementing participatory research methods to engage community in sustainable breast cancer research: Using this approach, we have established partnerships with 5 community-based organizations in Gadsden and Leon Counties from the beginning of this project and we propose a series of media campaign methods, such as convening of informational meetings, mobile video shows, brochures, advertisements and information booklets targeting community and academic stakeholders. As part of our participatory approach, we already have included a key community liaison and identified three community advisors and other stakeholder who have participated actively in prioritizing the center activities, intervention and service components of the CEOC. 2) Develop, implement and evaluate theory-driven, culturally sensitive outreach activities to improve health literacy, breast cancer screening and awareness of breast cancer disparities. A combination of community, behavioral and communication theories will be used to develop culturally appropriate outreach activities. To address the issue of cultural appropriateness the center will implement a faith-based outreach and education component called "The Bible Bookmark" and Faith-Based Resource Tool Kit. To increase participation in the process the center will implement periodic health revival in the community;to increase knowledge and awareness and to increase health literacy about breast cancer, cancer disparity, prevention and healthy life-style, the center will create a video-based mobile education campaign, brochures and information booklets. These materials will be assessed for readability and cultural sensitivity using the Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid, and Cultural Sensitivity Assessment Tools. The CEOC will also focus on psychological health of the participants and a patient referral service will be established with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Cancer Center. 3) Provide culturally appropriate outreach services to community members, support local outreach efforts and disseminate cancer and health information by creating a cadre of women to remind each other for screening (Project TREE). The CEOC will be evaluated, at process, impact and outcome levels with cleariy defined indicators: partnership development, trust, community engagement level, reciprocity, knowledge and behavioral intention change, health literacy change, changes in psychological health outcomes, BC screening rates, BC survival rates, participants'satisfaction and changes in overall disparities. All measures will be done using related standardized measurement tools.
To reduce health disparities, the importance of community engagement and outreach cannot be overemphasized. CBPR has emerged as alternative research paradigm which integrates education and social action by engaging and empowering communities to improve health and reduce health disparities. The proposed CEOC is conceptualized based evidence-based practices in community health which has high relevance in public health, cancer disparities in particular.
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