Spreading the Word about Breast Cancer

Mammograms remain the best method to detect breast cancer early, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With late-stage breast cancer diagnoses on the rise among African-American women, a new interactive DVD was released during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The DVD is targeted to African-American women to promote regular mammograms in this vulnerable population group.

The 18-minute DVD, “Abreast on the Boat of Hope: Mammography, the Life Saver,” was produced on the heels of a pilot study organized by Maureen Lichtveld, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

The pilot study involved 16 focus groups consisting of African-American women who shared their opinions on why messages about mammograms weren’t successfully penetrating their communities.

“We knew of a similar DVD that had been produced in the Midwest, but wanted to learn from our women what would work,” says Lichtveld, who also serves as associate director for population sciences for the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium (LCRC). “We left those sessions with a keen sense of the content.”

Lichtveld and research program manager Farah Arosemena learned from participants that the most effective intervention disc should feature local women, who are not actors, and be culturally relevant.

According to Arosemena, African-American women are being diagnosed at younger ages with more aggressive tumors. A significant percentage of the population of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities is African American.

The LCRC-funded pilot study allowed the team to subsequently compete for national funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “REACH US” program for a community-based participatory study, which ultimately resulted in the production of the DVD.

The interactive DVD will be distributed locally and in the Gulf Coast region through collaborations with community partners and faith-based organizations. Lichtveld and Arosemena also presented their research at the American Public Health Association conference this past November.

— Alicia Duplessis Jasmin

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About Tulane University SPHTM

Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is the oldest school of public health in the country and the only American school of tropical medicine. Our mission is to advance public health knowledge, promote health and well-being, and prevent disease, disability, and premature mortality. This is accomplished through academic excellence in education of public health professionals, rigorous scientific research of public health problems, creative partnerships to advance the practice of public health, and innovative service to the local, national, and international public health community.
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