African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer (CRC) mortality and morbidity rates when compared to all other racial and ethnic groups in the United States (ACS, 2014). Faith-based health promotion interventions and programs targeting this population have shown effective however cancer disparities remain; in some cases the cancer mortality gap is widening among African American men (Jemal et. al, 2010). Strategic health communication programs that engage and include the consumer in a collaborative communication process can help to address and eventually break down barriers that contribute to health disparities (Kreps, 2006). The present study aimed to investigate the influence of socially marketed cancer communication materials in predominately African American churches in the Midwest and how these materials impacted colorectal cancer screening with a FIT (fecal immunochemical test) kit.

African Americans between the ages of 45 and 79 (n=163) from six churches participated in the study. Churches were randomized as clusters in a 2-arm design. Cluster randomization was based on location in the metropolitan area and also the congregation size. Intervention churches (3) received culturally and religiously targeted communication materials from church personnel who were either a registered nurse, other medical professional (e.g. CNA) or who were affiliated with health initiatives at the church. Control/comparison churches received standard CRC screening education by non-church personnel. The pilot intervention occurred at intervention churches over a 5-6 week period that began with a workshop presented by the church to educate and inform participants about CRC risk, prevention and screening with a FIT kit. In subsequent weeks the church marketed additional materials to participants that were sponsored, created and disseminated by both the church and university researches. Comparison churches received standard CRC communication materials (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that were available via a brief informational session. Other communication materials included general health information about diet, exercise and heart disease. Preliminary results suggest there is no significant difference of impact between standard vs. targeted CRC communication on screening with a FIT kit. Participants in this sample perceived the church and university researchers as important communicators of colorectal cancer risk and prevention. Participants in both arms trusted the information and perceived that communication materials were created and delivered by either the church and/or researchers even in the case they were not. In addition, those who had little knowledge about CRC screening completed the FIT kit for the first time or were willing to screen again if they were not up to date. The trust in the church and also its affiliation to trusted researchers suggests that individuals in this sample have positive perceptions and attitudes toward CRC screening. The lack of knowledge about CRC risk and also tests were modified following church-led workshops and informational sessions. Participants, particularly males, were also more willing to screen for CRC if their pastor or church leader screened for the disease. The partnership and thus delivery of any type of education by Faith Based Organizations and researchers has the potential to impact screening rates and also screening behavior.

Citation Format: Crystal Lumpkins, Daniel Nwachokor, Adam Blackstock, Adrinne Blackstock, Broderick Crawford, Lynn Miller, Israel B. S. Groves, Jr., K. Allen Greiner, Chris Daley. A community of cancer communicators: The influence of a collaborative faith-based social marketing project to address CRC risk and prevention among African American church populations. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Eighth AACR Conference on The Science of Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; Nov 13-16, 2015; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2016;25(3 Suppl):Abstract nr A42.