244192 My mother's keeper: Raising breast cancer awareness in the Black family through upstream intergenerational communication

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lucy Annang, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
S. Melinda Spencer, PhD , Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
While many Black women are hailed as caregivers and leaders of their communities, they also often suffer from many health challenges, with health outcomes consistently trailing that of their racial/ethnic counterparts. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women, and more Black women die of this cancer than women of any other racial/ethnic group. To address this disparity, we propose an innovative approach to health communication, capitalizing on the strength of the Black community to raise awareness about breast cancer and improve health outcomes.

Relaying information by word-of-mouth is a hallmark of the Black community; yet this tradition has not been widely used in a family context in public health. In the Black family, knowledge is typically passed from mothers to daughters; however, it is likely that daughters are exposed to comparatively more health information, namely through exposure to more dynamic environments (e.g., school, Internet, social media). One avenue to explore is whether health messages can be effectively relayed from daughters to mothers–Upstream Intergenerational Communication (UIC).

We will present the conceptual framework underpinning UIC and results of a pilot study using the approach to improve breast cancer awareness among Black women. This approach can potentially enhance health communication within the Black community and contribute to positive health outcomes among Black women. Moreover, this concept is innovative in that it recognizes that the intergenerational relationship is an untapped natural resource within the Black family that can be used as an asset when developing culturally-tailored public health interventions.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe racial/ethnic disparities in breast cancer. 2. Describe upstream intergenerational communication as a strategy to address disproportionate rates of breast cancer among Black women.

Keywords: African American, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Professor of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior and I teach and conduct research in women's health and racial health disparities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.