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JPHCOPH Awarded $297,185 Federal Grant

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Researchers from Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health have been awarded a $297,185 grant from the National Institutes of Health to refine and test a cervical cancer education program in the Latino/Hispanic community. The 2-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research is titled, “Salud es Vida (Health is Life): Reducing Access Barriers to Cervical Cancer Screening among Underserved Hispanic Women.” Dr. John S. Luque is the Principal Investigator of the new grant. The researchers are also partnering with Georgia Health Sciences University’s Gynecological Cancer Prevention Center and Department of Medical Illustration. In a previous NIH pilot grant, Dr. Luque’s team developed a Spanish language cervical cancer screening toolkit that helps community health workers to encourage women to receive Pap tests and information about the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer. This new grant will test the efficacy of this intervention approach.

According to statistics provided by the CDC, Hispanic women have the highest rates of cervical cancer of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Hispanic women are also more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Hispanic whites. There are several reasons why cervical cancer rates are much higher in this segment of the population, one being that Hispanic women, especially newer immigrants, are less likely to receive regular Pap tests. In addition, recent changes in Pap test guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, recommend that women receive Pap tests only every three years beginning at age 21. Other professional groups have recommended that outreach be targeted at medically underserved women who have never received screening. In rural Georgia, there are numerous barriers to regular screening including shortage of providers, transportation challenges, and burdensome costs for uninsured patients. In order to increase information about access to cervical cancer screening, Dr. Luque is partnering with the nonprofit organization, Southeast Georgia Communities Project (SEGCP), directed by Ms. Andrea Hinojosa in Lyons, Georgia to reach the target population. The community health workers (or promotoras in Spanish) will have the educational tools to deliver this information to their fellow community members to join the fight against cancer health disparities. The 2011 Department of Health and Human Services “Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities” specifically calls for supporting more training of community health workers, such as promotoras, as one its action steps to reduce disparities.

“This hope is that this study will add to evidence base for how important a community health worker can be in making sure that underserved women receive routine, yet often life-saving, Pap tests,” said Luque. “Promotoras typically volunteer to work with women in low-income areas who often do not have adequate access to preventative health care. Our study will demonstrate how researchers can partner with community partners and promotoras to refine and test a cervical cancer education and outreach toolkit to reduce cancer health disparities.”

Luque says this study will test the efficacy of the intervention in the target population. The study may help community health programs and clinics realize the value of community health workers as they plan cervical cancer outreach programs for Hispanic women.

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Posted in Community Health, JPHCOPH, Research