Cancer, Culture & Literacy, 5/04

This report was written by Blue Walcer, MPH, a former board member of the Annie Appleseed Project.

"Blue Walcer, CARE Director (Cancer Awareness, Resources and Education), works to give patients a greater role in their health care and health care decisions. Ms. Walcer received her Bachelor's degree in Education and Social Justice and her Master's in Public Health in Community Health Education from the University of California, Berkeley.

Prior to her work with the CARE Program, Ms. Walcer was Director of Patient Education at San Francisco General Hospital and the Program Director for the National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine in San Francisco, a program for high school students interested in pursuing medical careers".

The report is for her department and discusses issues from that perspective:

Cancer, Culture & Literacy conference, Clearwater, FLA, May 20 - May 22, 2004

Pre-conference workshop

Beyond focus groups: The Use of Additional Types of Qualitative Research Methodologies,

Roberta Baer, PhD

This workshop focused on the use of qualitative methods, including participant observation, key informant interviewing, kinship analysis, and ethnosemantics.

Relevance to San Francsico General Hospital's cancer education programs - This workshop, which was much like an Anthropology 101 course, made me seriously consider incorporating strategies such as keeping extensive field notes for the CARE and waiting room programs.

While we already conduct ongoing process evaluations, these evaluations are fairly rudimentary, due to limited staff resources and time constraints. I would like to encourage the med students with whom I work (or work with a medical anthropology student) to augment the participant observer role by keeping detailed fields notes.

These notes, like writing a letter to a friend, would not only reflect what the students hear and observe in the respective programs, but also record their own impressions of the experience.

Roundtable discussion: Medical Anthropology and Migration,

Nancy Burke, PhD, UCSF Comp Cancer Center

This discussion focused on the relevance of medical anthropology and ethnographic methods to the study of immigrant health issues, including the design of effective interventions, study of doctor patient communication, and identification of sociocultural issues related to cancer screening.

I discussed the possibility of working with a medical anthropology student with Dr. Burke. She suggested that I contact Filipe Bourgieu, Chair of Medical Anthropology at UCSF, to further explore this possibility.

Roundtable discussion: Everything you wanted to know about the NCI grants process and haven't gotten around to asking,

Sabra Wooley, NCI:

An informal discussion of the challenges and opportunities in the process of obtaining an NCI grant, with an emphasis on the behavioral/social science research areas.

I will contact Ms. Wooley via email (who has worked frequently with Rena Pasick) to explore NCI funding possibilities for CARE, etc.

Plenary: Marilyn Gaston, MD, Community Collaborations for Education, Prevention, Early Diagnosis, Treatment, & Research.

CDC estimates that 48% of premature cancer deaths are preventable. Through intensive education/screening programs, Contra Costa County has brought disparities in terms of breast cancer staging to 0 in five years (way to go Wendell!)

Poster sessions of interest:

Arts in Medicine, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute has an amazing program that includes a visual arts , music, storytelling and poetry, expressive movement, performance workshops, open studio, labyrinth (meditative walking) and art exhibitions.

The benefits to patients in terms of relaxation and expression are undeniable.

The Moffitt Cancer Center has 7 paid staff who coordinate the program.

Cancer Education and Prevention through "Dia de La Mujer Latina."

Paula Espinoza, PhD, (Colorado University) developed a health bingo game (different from ACS's breast health bingo) for their very successful health fairs.

We are in email contact and Dr. Espinoza has promised to share the game with me. I'm hoping that the game will be useful and appropriate for the waiting room program and/or for a CARE activity.

Computer-based Cancer Education for Teens,

Cassandra Harris, MS, CHES, MD Anderson Cancer Center.

This web-based program provides tools for teaching about cancer, nutrition, exercise, tobacco awareness, and sun protection. I'm interested in seeing what we can adapt for a waiting room presentation.

Overall impressions: It was great to be in an environment where cancer was discussed in the context of culture and literacy.

Issues related to cultural competence and health literacy have been extensively explored and are not new to those of us whose professional activities have focused on these areas for years.

We face tremendous challenges in promoting screening/early detection to patients from cultural groups (African American, Latino) with present time (as opposed to future time) orientations.

There remains a disconnect between the agenda and experience of researchers and those who work directly with patients/clients.

At San Francisco General Hospital we have a unique opportunity to combine research agendas with activities that are of direct and immediate benefit to our patients.

The CARE program in particular, already addresses health from both positive and ecological (physical, mental, social well-being) perspectives.

At the conference, I was not aware of any other cancer programs that combine education and psychosocial support, as CARE does.

I would like to work with students to more thoroughly document the experiences of participants in our cancer education programs.



Blue Walcer, MPH San Francisco General Hospital Hematology/Oncology Division


Survivorship & Advocacy in Cancer Control Res

Includes the presentation by Sandra Blank, JD, Exec. Dir. Florida Breast Cancer Resource Network

BCa Screening & Mortality Reduction in U.S.
Cancer Awareness, Resources, and Education

LINK: Excellent program at San Francisco General Hospital


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