Cancer Control Research5R01CA102760-02
Danish, Steven J.
A BRIDGE TO BETTER HEALTH: DEVELOPING ADOLESCENT HEALTH
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Early detection can increase the survival rate and reduce the ultimate medical costs. Understanding one's family health history, and thus the potential increased risk for disease, may increase the likelihood that healthy behaviors will be adopted. The proposed project, BRIDGE: Bridging the Gap to Better Health, is an innovative seven-session program taught in high school. The proposed project is theory-based and has two main components: (1) a genealogy or health history component intended to increase the awareness of cancer risks and motivation to reduce risks by encouraging students to become their own health historians; and (2) a skill development component intended to increase the knowledge and practice of behaviors designed to prevent or reduce the deleterious effects of cancer. By first building motivation and then teaching the skills of conducting breast and testicular self-examinations and how to reduce fat, increase fruit and vegetable intake, and use sunscreen, we provide the platform from which true behavior change can occur. Furthermore, this program will empower students to practice other behaviors, which may prevent the future incidence of other diseases. Eight schools in suburban Richmond, Virginia will be randomly assigned to intervention or control status. The program targets ninth grade students (about 225 per school) enrolled in health and/or physical education classes. The intended outcomes of this program are increased awareness or knowledge, intentions to change, and mastery of skills to prevent cancer. Specifically, we hope to increase cancer risk and health historian skill knowledge, intentions and self-efficacy for self-exams (breast, testicular, and skin checks), dietary fat reduction, fruit and vegetable consumption, and sunscreen use. Students will be evaluated in these areas using a paper survey at pre-intervention, one month post-intervention and 3 months post-intervention. We will also continue pilot-testing an innovative evaluation technique of skill acquisition (the ability to demonstrate skills of self-screening practices) as an outcome measure. If successful, we envision this to be the first program of its kind, to introduce health history and to empower students at an early enough age for them to combat the risk.