Prostate cancer survivors as community health educators: Implications for informed decision making and cancer communication

Santosh Vijaykumar, Ricardo Wray, Keri Jupka, Ryan Clarke, Mellve Shahid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recent evidence questioning the effectiveness of prostate-specific antigen testing leave community-based prostate cancer (CaP) outreach programs with a dilemma between promoting screening and highlighting screening risks. CaP survivors are uniquely positioned to address this problem by drawing upon real-life experiences to share nuanced information and perspectives. While CaP survivors have historically been incorporated into outreach programs, little is known about their impact on psychosocial outcomes and their effectiveness compared to professional health educators. This study addressed these gaps through a quasi-experimental design where African American men attended a CaP screening session conducted by a health educator (HE) or survivor educator (SV). The presentation included prostate cancer statistics, CaP information, and descriptions of CaP screening tests. SV were encouraged to bolster their presentations with personal stories whereas HE maintained fidelity to the curriculum content. All participants completed pre- and post-test questionnaires. Our sample comprised a total of 63 participants (HE group = 32; SV group = 31) with an age range of 40–70 years. Decision self-efficacy increased significantly in the SV group (p = 0.01) whereas perceived screening risks reduced significantly in the HE group (p < 0.001). No significant changes were found in knowledge, subjective norms, outcome expectancies, and screening benefits. Survivor educators were found to have significantly greater appeal (p = 0.03), identification with audience (p = 0.01), and liking (p = 0.03). Training CaP survivors as health educators might be a viable strategy for community-based cancer communication efforts confronted by the CaP screening controversy. We discuss conceptual and programmatic implications of our findings and present directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-628
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
Early online date6 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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