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Will survivors’ stories enhance the effectiveness of breast cancer communication among African American women?

Matthew W Kreuter, PhD, MPH1, Kathy Holmes, MPH, RN2, Jean N. Freeman, BA2, Eddie Clark, PhD3, Deborah O. Erwin, PhD4, JoAnne Banks-Wallace, PhD, RN5, and Katherine Jahnige-Matthews, MD, MPH6. (1) Health Communication Research Laboratory, School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, 3545 Lafayette, Salus Center Room 429, Saint Louis, MO 63104, 314-977-8132, kreuter@slu.edu, (2) Health Communication Research Laboratory, School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, 3545 Lafayette Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104, (3) Psychology, St. Louis University, 214 Shannon Hall, 3511 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, MO 63103, (4) The Witness Project, U of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Cancer Research Center, 10th Fl, Slot #629-A, 4301 West Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205, (5) School of Nursing, University of Missouri-Columbia, S-324, Columbia, MO 65211, (6) Siteman Cancer Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Box 8100, 660 S. Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63110

Experience-based knowledge and communication through storytelling are deeply rooted in the culture of African American women. However, despite being familiar, comfortable, and credible, such personal narratives are often missing from conventional approaches to breast cancer communication, even those approaches developed specifically for African American women. This paper provides an interdisciplinary review of theoretical rationale for using personal narratives in cancer communication, and examines competing explanations for how stories may influence an audience’s beliefs and actions. Finally, it describes how the effectiveness of breast cancer survivors’ stories are currently being evaluated in a large-scale randomized trial in St. Louis, MO. To help eliminate racial disparities in cancer and other major diseases, it is important to identify, develop, and evaluate culturally based approaches to communicating health information. Using personal narratives appears to be a promising approach.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this presentation, attendees will be able to

Keywords: Cancer Prevention, African American

Related Web page: hcrl.slu.edu

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Theory and Research in Health Communication

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA