Online Program

"You have to empower your own self so you can be prepared for this journey”: A model of cancer health literacy

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ellen Lopez, MPH, PhD, Psychology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
Christopher DeCou, BA, Department of Psychology, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID
Danielle Giroux, MSW, Division of Behavioral Health, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK
Freda Williams, Community Services Department, Fairbanks Native Association, Fairbanks, AK
As the numbers of Alaska Native people experiencing cancer and cancer survivorship continues to rise, so do the demands for empowering information resources. Health literacy - defined as the capacity to obtain, process, and understand health information and services - is critical to empowerment and quality of life for survivors and their loved ones. Hopeful Connections is a community-academic partnership of the Fairbanks Native Association (a non-profit organization serving over 6000 Alaska Native residents in Alaska's Interior Region) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Center for Alaska Native Health Research (a NIH-funded center focused on reducing Alaska Native health disparities). Within this partnership, we conducted in-depth interviews with 28 Alaska Native cancer survivors to elucidate the factors that facilitate or challenge survivorship quality of life. In this presentation we describe the theoretical model of cancer health literacy that emerged from qualitative analysis of survivors' reports and stories. Illustrated in this dynamic model is the central role that one's sources of information play throughout their cancer journey. In this capacity, the information conveyed facilitates the initial ‘sinking-in' process, whereby survivors acknowledge their diagnosis and the need to move forward. Continued information seeking further serves to empower survivors as they navigate the on-going, life-long processes of treatment decision-making, symptom management, and healthy short and long-term survival. Empowered by enhanced health literacy, cancer survivors gain a unique expertise, and the opportunity to become a new and critical source of information to other survivors who are also navigating their cancer journeys.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education

Learning Objectives:
Explain the process and importance of forging a community-academic collaborative to address issues related to Alaska Native cancer survivorship quality of life Describe a dynamic model of cancer health literacy as informed by Alaska Native cancer survivors.

Keyword(s): Alaska Natives, Health Literacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal on several cancer-related grants that adhere to CBPR perspectives. The goal of this work is to meet the quality of life needs of Alaska Native cancer survivors
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.