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Research

The center has an active program of community-based participatory research, involving community members in all aspects of the process, from identifying interventions that would be welcome by local residents, to planning interventions, to contributing to the development of culturally sensitive materials, to assisting in the analysis, dissemination, and application of study findings. Check out our current research projects and recent publications and presentations to learn more about our research.

Research Projects

Head and Neck Cancer Rural Media Campaign

The purpose of the Center’s first community-based intervention led by Dr. Joseph L. Riley III is to apply scientific health promotion models to increase screening for head and neck cancer among rural African American men.

First, small groups of community members will provide ideas on adapting existing promotional material and messages. The goal of the input from these meetings is to make the material and messages more acceptable and persuasive for the targeted audience.

Next, these materials will be used in a year-long media campaign that will provide information about head and neck cancer and encourage screening.

Finally, the impact of the media campaign on rates of screening will be measured in the media-targeted region and a control area elsewhere in Florida in two ways:

  • A series of surveys conducted before and after the media campaign will ask questions about screening.
  • In addition, increased attendance in a series of free screenings before and after the campaign in the target and control communities will be assessed.

Developing Cancer Prevention Messages: Elaboration Likelihood Model

This project, led by Dr. Virginia Dodd of the College of Health and Human Performance, seeks to refine the science of health promotion in our most vulnerable communities. Using the Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion, the Center is conducting a community-based participatory research project using a social marketing approach to examine whether highly targeted, fine-tuned health promotion messages encourage voluntary preventative behavior. Qualitative data collection methods will describe message processing and audience perceptions of head and neck cancer.

Phase one of this project involves hiring and training community residents to assist in research. Focus groups and appropriate quantitative measures will be used to gather community-specific data. During this phase, focus group findings will guide development of health message content, design, and placement.

Phase two involves utilizing community venues such as health fairs and other events to test message preference and effectiveness among members of the target community. Large-scale events provide appropriate venues for individual intercept interview methodology. Prototype messages will be displayed on story boards, and interviewers will use a semi-structured interview guide to collect personal preferences and suggested changes for message modifications/revisions.

Phase three will utilize theatre testing conducted in churches, auditoriums, community centers, school classrooms, or other places where large groups of the target audience can simultaneously view the health messages. Findings from the theatre testing will be used to finalize message design and hone channels for dissemination.

Oral Cancer Screening Development Project

Led by Dr. Henrietta Logan, researchers at the Center and at the University of Chicago are working on this NIDCR-funded subcontract to develop an oral cancer screening regimen. Oral cancer survival strongly depends on stage at diagnosis. Five-year survival is high when caught early, but two-thirds of cases are diagnosed in later stages with less favorable survival and invasive treatment. Screening has been shown to decrease oral cancer mortality, presumably by detecting lesions earlier when oral cancer is preventable or easily treated.

The goals of this project are threefold:

  1. Design a multi-center randomized controlled clinical trial to estimate and compare the diagnostic accuracy of three screening regimens:
    • Visual and tactile oral examination;
    • Visual and tactile oral examination plus Velscope;
    • Visual and tactile oral examination plus Trimara OCS 3000.
  2. Describe the tactical plan for conducting safe, rapid and rigorous execution and analysis of the proposed trial.
  3. Write a detailed Manual of Procedures (MOP) for conducting the trial.

Finding the best screening practice will directly affect the health of many Americans, decreasing sickness and death and improving survival.

Oral Histories

The Center’s team, in association with researchers in the UF department of anthropology led by Dr. Allan Burns, aims to gather anecdotes about people’s experiences with head and neck cancer. These stories will complement our data collection in painting an accurate picture of the impact of head and neck cancer on the lives of those who are affected.

These stories will be used in a variety of ways, such as:

  • In media materials developed as part of the Center’s interventions (e.g. as a quote in a pamphlet or on our Web site)
  • In news releases about Center activities
  • In academic articles about research findings
  • In lobbying for changes in coverage or billing
  • For ethnographic or content analyses finding common themes

Researchers will collect the stories of those affected by head and neck cancer through audio-recorded interviews. These interviews will primarily stand alone as a unique perspective of someone whose life was impacted by head and neck cancer. Additionally, these interviews may be analyzed using content analysis, discourse analysis, coding for themes, or other methods of qualitative analysis. These accounts will improve our overall understanding of head and neck cancer and the real-life aftermath of this disease.