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“What’s the Big Deal?”: A Colorectal Cancer [CRC] Screening Readers’ Theatre

Program Type: Promising Practice -Programs not formally evaluated (or formal evaluation is not yet complete) but identified by experts as programs with results suggesting efficacy and worthy of further study in broader pilot implementation efforts.

What’s the Big Deal?, a 25-minute Readers’ Theatre script was developed to provide colorectal cancer [CRC] screening information, share ways to discuss CRC screening, increase comfort with talking about CRC, and encourage healthy lifestyle choices for Alaska Native and American Indian Community Health Workers [CHW] and the people in their communities. Colorectal cancer [CRC] is the second leading cause of cancer mortality for Alaska Native and American Indian people, yet through colonoscopy screening to find and remove polyps early cancer incidence and mortality can be decreased. Readers Theatre is the coming together of a group of people to read aloud a conversation that has been scripted. Participants volunteer to actively participate as a listener or to read aloud a specific character of their choosing, regardless of gender or age. Through Reader’s Theatre, participants have an opportunity to read the voice and feel the emotion of a different gender, age, and life experience. People, reading their chosen roles, sit among the listeners in a circle. Both readers and listeners are given a copy of the script to read aloud or to follow along and listen. Readers Theatre has been shared over the radio, as a dinner theatre performance, in a classroom setting, and as a community event. Readers’ Theatre participants were asked to complete a two-page written evaluation of their experience. Open-ended questions complimented a check box format to better understand participants’ experience and to generate learner responses. Participants [161/172] from eight CHW cancer education workshops and three community presentations completed a written evaluation. Evaluation results revealed 59 [95] of participants wrote detailed information describing what they learned, 90 [145] reported feeling more comfortable talking about CRC, and 77 [124] described healthy changes they planned to make including: getting screened [30], supporting others to get screened [34], sharing cancer information [35], being more physically active [42], eating healthier [34], and quitting tobacco [6]. Readers’ Theatre participation was associated with increased knowledge, comfort talking about CRC screenings, and it appeared to serve as a catalyst for positive intent to change behavior. To learn more about Readers Theatre: Cueva, M., Dignan, M., & Kuhnley, R. [2012] Readers’ Theatre: A Communication Tool for Colorectal Cancer Screening. Journal of Cancer Education. 27 [2] 281-286.

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Health Education

Service Area:

Cancer screening


Name: Melany Cueva
Site or Location Name: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
4000 Ambassador Dr
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: 9077292441