Education

Grant To Wash U Designed To Fight Cancer
Washington University has received an $8.6 million grant that researchers will use to explore how improved information and referral systems will help eliminate disparities in the minority population in getting diagnosed and treated early for cancer.

African-American women who are diagnosed with breast cancer tend to be diagnosed with more advanced-stage disease, and deaths from breast cancer are higher among African-American women compared with Caucasian women, according to the National Cancer Institute.

These disparities exists because of minorities failure to in adhere to follow-up care, patterns of patient/provider communication and availability of emotional support, researchers at Washingoonn university have determined.

With the grant money, members of the HDRL team will be able to test communication strategies to enhance prevention and early detection treatment of cancer in low-income populations, officials with Washinton University said.

The grant will fund three studies. The first study will include 3,564 participants statewide who will receive referrals to free cancer prevention and screening services available close to their homes. Some will receive help from a personal assistant or individualized health information to act on the referral.
The second study will evaluate a news service that distributes localized cancer information to minority-serving newspapers, officials at Wshington University said.

The third study, involving 220 African-American women being treated for breast cancer at the Siteman Cancer Center, seeks to improve treatment adherence by providing them with a touch-screen computer system, Living Proof, that contains hundreds of videotaped stories from local African-American women who are survivors of breast cancer.

The stories share survivors’ strategies for coping with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, dealing with personal and professional relationships, having a positive experience in the health-care system and assuring follow-up care.

The grant, from the National Cancer Institute, was awarded to the Health Communications
Research Laboratory at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. HCRL is one of only five Centers of Excellence in cancer research.

“We know a lot about how to prevent cancer or detect it early, and many of these services are available for free to those with low income or no insurance,” says Matthew W. Kreuter, Ph.D., principal investigator of the grant and director of the HCRL. “But we need to do a much better job connecting people to these services.”

Kreuter also is a professor at the Brown School and holds an appointment at the School of Medicine. Additionally, he is a scholar at Washington University’s Institute for Public Health.

Kreuter says these studies are unique because of their scale and their integration into existing state and national systems that serve disadvantaged populations.

“We want to assure that the great progress science has made in finding and fighting cancer benefits all people,” Kreuter says. “If these strategies are effective, they can be applied all over the United States.”
Washington University will explore how improved information and referral systems can help eliminate these disparities. The HCRL is one of only five Communication Research centers nationwide.

All of the research will be done in real world settings with local partners, Washington University officials said.

The United Way of Greater St. Louis, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and Missouri Foundation for Health are all places where researchers will work.

Research will also be done with the American Cancer Society to evaluate effects of a national cancer news service for minority-serving media, officials at Washington University said.

The American Cancer Society will select these newspapers through its divisions in 14 states that are home to 55 percent of the U.S. African-American population.

In a previous HCRL study involving newspapers primarily serving African-Americans in 24 U.S. cities, the news service, called Ozioma, significantly increased the amount and quality of cancer coverage and increased readers talking about cancer, seeking information about cancer and increasing cancer prevention behaviour, Washington University officials said.