Tailoring cancer education and support programs for low-income, primarily African American cancer survivors

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011 Jan;38(1):E55-9. doi: 10.1188/11.ONF.E55-E59.


Purpose/objectives: to identify the information and stress-management topics of most interest to low-income, predominantly African American cancer survivors.

Research approach: descriptive, cross sectional.

Setting: outpatient oncology clinic in a public hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

Participants: 25 patients with cancer; 12 were men, 22 were African Americans, and 16 had a 12th-grade education or less.

Methodologic approach: patients ranked potential topics to be included in an educational curriculum.

Main research variables: quantitative rankings of information and stress-management priorities.

Findings: learning about cancer, understanding cancer treatments, relieving cancer pain, and keeping well in mind and body were the most highly ranked topics among those offered within the American Cancer Society's I Can Cope curriculum, which also included supportive topics such as mobilizing social support. The preferred stress-management topics were humor therapy, music therapy, meditation, and relaxation; lower-ranked topics included pet therapy and art as therapy.

Conclusions: cancer survivors appear most interested in topics specific to their illness and treatment versus supportive topics. Stress management also received high rankings.

Interpretation: nurses have a key role in providing patient education and support. Tailoring education programs may better target specific needs and improve the quality of cancer care of underserved patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Oncology Nursing / methods*
  • Pain / nursing
  • Pain / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Poverty
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology