Screening to the converted: An educational intervention in African American churches

Barry D. Mann, Lenore Sherman, Constance Clayton, Romaine F. Johnson, Jennifer Keates, Rebecca Kasenge, Karen Streeter, Laura Goldberg, Linda Z. Nieman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background. African American women have higher incidences of breast and cervical cancers and African American men present with more advanced stages of colon and prostate cancers than do their non-African American counterparts. Since the church is central to the organization of the African American community, the authors set out to determine whether a church- directed educational project could influence parishioners to obtain cancer screening. Methods. Three African American churches having memberships of 250, 500, and 1,500, respectively, were selected for their different socioeconomic strata: one congregation was composed mostly of working poor, the second was more affluent, and the third consisted primarily of retirees. During a five-week summer period, appropriate literature, health fairs, testimonials by cancer survivors, and visits by representatives of the medical community were used to increase awareness of cancer screening. Surveys regarding cancer-screening behaviors were distributed at the end of church services. Using the guidelines established by the American Cancer Society, individual recommendations for screening examinations were developed and sent to parishioners based on their survey responses. Results. Of 437 parishioners surveyed (73% female, 27% male), 75% were 40 years old or older. Many reported up-to-date screening for breast (84%), cervical (78%), colon (62%), and prostate (89%) cancers. The results were remarkably similar in all three churches. Telephone follow-up seven months after the survey directed at the 120 parishioners identified as noncompliant for at least one cancer screening revealed that 49% had obtained the appropriate screenings. Conclusions. These African American churchgoers were well screened compared with estimated national averages, possibly due to previous efforts of the activist ministers in the churches selected. The message for cancer screening is heeded when delivered through the African American church.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-50
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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