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Findings from American Indian Needs Assessments


Because of decreased access and dismal survival rates, strategies need to be developed to increase cancer awareness and facilitate cancer prevention, early detection, and screening activities within American Indian (AI) populations. The purpose of this study was to develop a locally tailored needs assessment to collect cancer prevention, control, and risk factor information and knowledge, attitude, and perceived behavior (hereafter referred to as “needs assessment”) data from 500 community members living in 3 geographically diverse settings: the Southeastern USA, the Rocky Mountain region, and the Northern Plains. Needs assessment data helped identify local health priorities and create a pilot cancer prevention and early detection education intervention. There were two versions of common items of the instrument: short (~35 items) and long (55 items), and each partner added items that were recommended by their local AI Advisory Committee. Each partner collaborated with local AI organizations to identify and recruit participants at community venues. During the sessions, facilitators used Power Point® slides and ARS equipment and software to anonymously collect participants’ responses. The partners collected needs assessment data from 677 community members over a 4-year period. Cancer education knowledge was low, barriers to accessing timely cancer screening and care services were excessive, tobacco use was excessive, and daily physical activity was insufficient for most participants. ARS was an effective way to collect needs assessment information. During discussions following the data collection, community members requested more cancer education opportunities, access to patient navigation services, and cultural competency training for healthcare providers.

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Correspondence to Linda Burhansstipanov.

Ethics declarations

All authors took part in supervising or conducting the needs assessment, and all but one helped critique, revise, and edit the final manuscript. The one exception was unable to take part with the final editing due to long-term hospitalization. All have approved the version being submitted.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

The needs assessment study was submitted for IRB approval and received an “exempt” rating by the Western IRB, June 2011.

This was a National Cancer Institute-funded research solely funded through Mayo Clinic’s Spirit of Eagles Communities Network Program 2 [PI: Kaur, NCI 1U54 CA 153605].

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Burhansstipanov, L., Krebs, L.U., Harjo, L. et al. Findings from American Indian Needs Assessments. J Canc Educ 33, 576–582 (2018).

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  • American Indian
  • Needs assessment
  • Disparities
  • Inequities
  • Barriers
  • Cancer prevention and control
  • Patient navigation
  • ARS (Audience Response System)