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Community Engagement Incentive Grants: Paul Terry

Colorectal Cancer Screening: Engaging the Community for Life

Paul Terry, associate professor of public health, received an Outreach Incentive Grant to engage the community in two large-scale educational seminars on the importance of colorectal cancer screening, an effective but underused way of saving lives.

Paul Terry

This project built on preliminary evidence Terry already has for success in high attendance, dissemination of educational material on screening, and the detection of nascent cancers through previous screening in a Knoxville population.

Based on these prior data, the event planning both adapted to prior community input and included plans to continue polling all participants for suggestions on how future seminars could be made more effective, and what the presenters could do to facilitate participants’ follow-up decisions to seek a colorectal cancer screening.

Prior evidence showed the importance of having a widely-known local personality as MC or host of these events.   Terry and his colleagues have found that advertising was much more successful in drawing people to these events when the speaker was famous.

Based on this experience, Terry and his team secured the participation of Bill Williams, a Knoxville news anchor and personality, as keynote speaker at these community seminars, along with speakers from the University Medical Center and a survivor of colorectal cancer.

The seminars were widely advertised via newspaper and radio.

Terry’s team carefully tracked both community attendance and follow-up screening rates.  Each seminar participant received an individual call after the seminar, both to find out how they perceived the event and whether (and why) they subsequently arranged for a colorectal screening with their preferred medical practitioner.

Dr. Anne Denise Kershenbaum, visiting professor of public health, will conduct research on how, where, and why/why not attendees follow-up with screening. The team will analyze the data obtained from these interviews, and this information will inform future community engagement projects of this type, and possibly lead to a publication.