The urban church and cancer control: a source of social influence in minority communities.
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The urban church and cancer control: a source of social influence in minority communities.

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  • English

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      Public Health Rep
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      A study was conducted to examine the efficacy of a church-based model of social influence in improving access to and participation of underserved minority women in a cervical cancer control program. The model expanded on strategies used in previous hypertension control and health promotion research. A total of 24 churches, stratified by faith tradition, were randomly selected to participate in the cancer control program from a pool of 63 churches in a defined geographic area of Los Angeles County, CA. Female parishioners ages 21 years and older were eligible to participate in cervical cancer education sessions, and screening was offered to adult women who had not had Papanicolaou tests within the last 2 years. Church participation rate was 96 percent. Thirty lay health leaders were selected by the clergy to serve as messengers, recruiters, and organizers for their respective congregations. Ninety-seven percent of these lay health leaders participated in two training sessions designed to prepare them for their leadership role. Social support structures such as child care, meals, or transportation for targeted women were organized by lay health leaders in 78 percent of the churches. A total of 1,012 women between the ages of 21 and 89 years attended educational sessions. Forty-four percent of the eligible women were targeted for screening because they had not had a Papanicolaou test within the last 2 years or had never been screened. Black women were 6.6 times more likely than Hispanics to have been screened in the past 2 years. Hispanic women were 4.2 times more likely than African Americans never to have had a Papanicolaou test or been tested in 3 or more years.Overall, 90 percent of the women targeted for screening recruitment presented for tests.Fifty-two percent of the churches initiated cancer control activities by the end of the 2-year period following the culmination of the intervention program.The findings suggest that a church-based model of social influence can leverage the participation of minority women in cervical cancer control, provide access to underserved Hispanic women in particular,and sustain cancer control activities beyond the life of an intervention program.The findings further suggest that a more discrete assessment of screening history may improve the participation levels of African American women, and that the gratis offering of screening services may adversely affect their participation rates.
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