Skip to Main Content

Understanding Community Participation in Cancer Detection

A team of researchers representing four institutions that include Cambridge University, University College London, University of Manchester and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), gathered around a conference table at the Samaritan Pastega Regional Cancer Center located in Corvallis in early April to understand the readiness of local Hispanic and Latino communities to take part in cancer early detection research.

The goal was to understand participation of underrepresented groups in cancer early detection research. The number of Hispanic/Latino individuals who die from cancer in Oregon has remained the same, despite the state’s decline in the overall number of cancer deaths in the past 5 years.

With the assistance of the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center Ambassador Stephanie Hagerty, who helped organize the mid-Willamette Valley portion of the project, members of the Hispanic and Latino community conducted interviews with local families. A few interviewers and other members of the community were then joined by representatives from OHSU, University of London, University of Cambridge, University of Manchester and Hagerty to review and summarize the interview responses using a tool that allowed the researchers to determine how ready the community was to participate in cancer early detection research.

“Stephanie has been extraordinary,” said Jessica Currier, PhD of OHSU. “She has helped us understand the history and intimate details involving this community within the valley. Samaritan’s involvement was absolutely critical for the success of this project.”

Five Oregon State University students, all part of the local Hispanic and Latino community, helped the researchers analyze data from the interviews. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the interviews were conducted virtually in English or Spanish, depending on the preference of the interviewer and interviewee.

“It’s been my pleasure to work with these amazing young people here,” said Christina Jäderholm, PhD-student, OHSU. “They have asked members of the Latino community about their experience and knowledge, and shared information about what efforts, outreach and resources are available to their community.”

With this work, the team hopes to identify better ways to create resources and outreach to bridge the gap between underrepresented communities and other social groups in cancer early detection research.

“One of the most important ways we understand what resources are needed is by conducting local community assessments,” said Jäderholm.

Although the results are still being finalized, researchers noticed that even widely spread messages on early detection often do not reach areas in the Latino community.

 “Having the Latino community be the ones that give information to other community members has been vital,” said Emily Arteaga, OSU graduate student. “What I’ve seen so far is definitely a need and a priority within the community.”

 The community readiness model used for this project focuses on community members interviewing fellow community members.

“The beauty of this model is that we asked local community members to interview their fellow community members. Then we step out of this, and the community conducts their own project,” said Dr. Currier, a researcher with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

The data collected will help understand what can be done to improve participation in early cancer detection among underrepresented communities.

 “Early detection can translate to early treatment and the possibility of cancer going away so that it doesn’t affect our finances, it doesn’t affect our family,” said Hagerty. “Early detection is such an important factor.”

“In Oregon, we’re focusing on the Latino community, but there’s also field work that will be happening in Manchester,” said Ignacia Arteaga, PhD, University of Cambridge. “For us, the interesting thing is to compare the experiences of communities here to those of other people who have been historically underserved.”

 “What we want to do is create a roadmap where we can put together the priorities that different constituencies like the communities should have, but also the scientists have on how to increase participation in early detection research and how to build trust between the clinical research infrastructures and the communities,” said Arteaga.

The plan is to release the results of the work with community members this fall.