Training Appalachian Kentucky Youth Cancer Advocates
AbstractObjectives: Kentucky has the highest cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States, with the Appalachian region experiencing the highest of those rates. Cancer advocacy, which is defined as providing support to cancer patients and their communities, represents a means of decreasing the cancer cases in Appalachian Kentucky. This exploratory study examined the effects of advocacy training and experiential learning on Appalachian high school students’ cancer advocacy attitudes and self-efficacy.
Methods: The design of this study was a mixed-methods, one-group repeated measure with a group of participants from the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program (N = 9). The study assessed advocacy attitudes and self-efficacy before and after participants were provided advocacy training and participated in an advocacy event.
Results: Participating students’ attitudes and self-efficacy did not substantially change following the training and their participation in an advocacy event. Through their comments after the event, however, students seem eager to use their voices to influence the actions of state legislators. At the same time, they worry about the apathy of their community members to their cancer advocacy message.
Conclusions: Youth represent potentially powerful agents of advocacy that could help address the cancer burden in Kentucky. Participants in this study likely overestimated their advocacy abilities before learning more about advocacy and participating in the process. As such, additional trainings are likely necessary to increase students’ self-efficacy, encourage them to share their stories, and help them overcome perceived barriers.
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