Highlights from the 8th biannual 2012 Moffitt Cancer Center Conference: Cancer, Culture & Literacy – Advancing Communications

This SurroundHealth guest blog was written by Julia Olff, MBA, CHES. Julia is responsible for developing and leading a variety of patient-centered health education programs at HealthEd, a patient education agency in New Jersey.

I was fortunate a few weeks ago to attend for the 2nd time, the Cancer, Culture & Literacy conference sponsored by the Moffitt Cancer Center. Like a great vacation, I am still feeling the effects of the experience and thinking about the smart, dedicated, caring health educators I met and the presentations and workshops I attended.   Here are a few highlights from the 3 day event that stood out for me and my takeaways.

Best lectures:

Juliet McMullin, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside, CA: Metaphors, Advocacy and Anthropology: Communicating Cultural Meaning and Difference in Cancer Inequalities

  • She discussed the role of technology and visual media in creating opportunities to a present a diversity of cancer narratives and voices.
  • Of particular interest to me was her discussion of the increasing use of graphic novels with cancer as a central theme and a highly accessible way to communicate the cancer experience.

Gregory Makoul, PhD, Chief Academic Officer from Saint Francis Hospital and Center, Hartford, CT: How Can Effective Communication Heal? Innovations for Improving Communication with all Patients

  • Effective communication must consider the receiver’s frame of reference which includes: culture, upbringing, experience, health status, literacy etc.
  • Dr. Makoul presented his work on the Communication Assessment Tool (CAT) – a 14 item tested instrument designed to give health care professionals (HCPs) systemic feedback on their patient communication based on a 5 point patient rating scale; now used in the US + 30 countries

 K.Vish Viswanath, PhD, from the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA: If We Tweet, Text and Blog, Who is Left Behind?

 Dr. Viswanath talked about the increasing fragmentation within social media with many smaller customized groups in contact with each other.

  • His research considers how inequalities in the distribution of communication resources and channels relate to health disparities.
  • He shared two case studies from his work:  the H1N1 outbreak (spring 2010) and the Boston water mains break (May 2010. In both instances there was very low utilization of social media or texting to share information about these health issues.

 My favorite buzzwords and terminology used:

  • Bio-sociality – the interaction of biological and social forces e.g. people with cancer v. people without
  • Community-based participatory research (CBPR) – many poster sessions were devoted to the subject, emphasizing you have to understand the community’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors in order to create and disseminate appropriate health education and influence behavior change!

Educational interventions and technology discussed:

  • Cancer awareness and prevention presentation held in a trailer park
  • Church-based interventions for prostate cancer survivors
  • Hair stylists promote cervical cancer awareness and screening in black communities
  • Patient narrative videos
  • Podcasts of patient stories
  • Spanish language PSA to address breast cancer disparities in Latina women
  • Text messages with health information and prevention messages

I look forward to your thoughts, comments and ideas and to seeing you at the 9th Cancer, Culture and Literacy Conference!

Interested in seeing more? The detailed summary of the Moffitt Conference highlights is available in SurroundHealth.

Be sure to check out our entire online community for health professionals – SurroundHealth, for other great articles, resources, discussions and news and events.


About dominikablogs

Dominika is a Community Manager of SurroundHealth, an online network where health professionals of different backgrounds come together to learn and share best practices. Dominika has her Master's in Public Health, and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Prior to SurroundHealth, Dominika worked for Kaiser Permanente, American Cancer Society, both in Patient Services and Community Health, and for HealthEd, developing patient education materials.
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2 Responses to Highlights from the 8th biannual 2012 Moffitt Cancer Center Conference: Cancer, Culture & Literacy – Advancing Communications

  1. really beautiful blog. I am also working on different strategies about how we can use social networking sites for online marketing. And your blog really help me lot in that.Please continue this great work.
    Thanks for posting 🙂

    Rusty Solomon

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