Disparities in cancer screening and care in rural communities warrant the need to determine effective ways to reach, engage, and educate the community residents. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to pilot methods to engage rural residents in colorectal cancer (CRC) research and education activities and assess knowledge of CRC guidelines, symptoms, and screening behaviors in this sample. The community-engaged research approach was employed to develop and distribute a CRC knowledge and screening behavior assessment using various methods such as email and community drop boxes placed throughout the community. Bivariate analysis assessed the relationship between age and CRC knowledge items. Three hundred ninety-one surveys were returned with most received from community drop boxes (60%) followed by educational events (23%). The most ineffective method to distribute surveys was through community events. Most individuals were knowledgeable of CRC symptoms (70%) and screening facts (67%). Bivariate analysis showed that individuals 50 years or older had significantly more knowledge of CRC risks and screening than those under the age of 50. This study highlights the potential of community drop boxes as an effective method for engaging rural communities. Further, findings from the survey highlight the need to focus CRC education on younger individuals in which CRC incidence has increased.
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We would like to thank the residents of the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District for their participation in our annual assessment. We would also like to thank all of our community partners who dedicated their time, expertise, and resources to develop, distribute, and assess the colorectal screening survey. Services and products in support of the research project were generated by the VCU Massey Cancer Center, supported, in part, with funding from NIH-NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA016059, NCI 2T32 CA093423, and by the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Sutton, A.L., Preston, M.A., Thomson, M. et al. Reaching Rural Residents to Identify Colorectal Cancer Education and Intervention Targets. J Canc Educ 36, 338–344 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-019-01635-x
- Colorectal cancer
- Rural health, screening
- Community engagement