Oral Presentation COSA-IPOS Joint Scientific Meeting 2012

Increased cancer awareness among British adolescents after a school-based educational intervention: a quasi-experimental before-and-after study (#46)

Nigel Revell 1 , Gill Hubbard 2 , Amy Harding 1 , Liz Forbat 2 , Richard Kyle 2
  1. Teenage Cancer Trust, London, United Kingdom
  2. University of Stirling, Inverness, Scotland

To determine whether an educational programme delivered by Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) increases adolescents’ cancer awareness.

‘Let’s talk about it’ is a one hour oral presentation delivered by TCT to adolescents in over 600 UK schools each year. Topics covered include: an introduction to cancer, identification of cancer warning signs, the impact of cancer, and the importance of taking responsibility for your own health and well-being. To assess the impact of this intervention a modified Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) was completed by 422 adolescents (male: 52.4%) aged 11-17 years (M=13.8, SD=1.26) recruited from four UK schools in Autumn 2011. The questionnaire was completed two weeks pre and post the intervention in three schools, and twice, four weeks apart in a fourth (control) school. Socio-demographic questions were included to gather data on gender and whether the student had been diagnosed with cancer or knew a relative or friend who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Recognition of cancer warning signs significantly increased in the intervention schools (4.6 [SD=2.21] to 6.8 [SD=2.26] out of 9, Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test T=2,247.5, p<0.001). Significantly fewer students reported that they did not know the most common childhood (49% to 27%, McNemar’s chi-square (χ2M ) test: p<0.001) and teenage (48% to 36%, χ2M: p<0.001) cancers. Endorsement of emotional barriers to help-seeking ‘not confident to talk about symptoms’ (53% to 45%, χ2M: p=0.021) and ‘worried about what the doctor might find’ (70% to 63%, χ2M: p=0.021) significantly decreased. In the control school there were no statistically significant changes in adolescents’ knowledge of the most common childhood and teenage cancers or endorsement of emotional barriers to help-seeking.

Future studies should consider developing this intervention and evaluating the impact of different methods used to raise adolescents’ cancer awareness and include both individual- and school-level explanatory variables.