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Path to Understanding Cancer Manual and Support Materials

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.

The Path to Understanding Cancer manual was developed with and for Alaska’s Community Health Workers [CHWs] in 1999 to provide basic cancer information and is continually updated to include medically- accurate information and to respond to CHWs’ expressed needs. The course manual, ‘Understanding Cancer’, includes 9 sections: 1] Self-Care, 2] Wellness Ways to Prevent and Decrease Cancer Risk, 3] Cancer and Our genes, 4] Understanding Cancer Basics, 5] Cancer Treatments: What to Expect, 6] Cancer Pain: Assessment and Management and 7] Loss, Grief and End-of-Life Comfort Care 8] Resources and 9] Community Activities. To extend CHWs’ knowledge and provide tools for patient education and community outreach, diverse cancer education materials were created. These included: three booklets, a flip chart, three interactive CD-ROMs, three Readers’ Theatre scripts, five movies, and CHW digital stories. Extensive evaluation of the Path to Understanding Cancer courses and supplementary materials has included group discussions, written evaluations, extended-interval telephone interviews, and mailed and internet surveys. Check box and open-ended questions were included for participants to share their feelings and comments about both cancer courses and materials. Initially, during a 5-year project span the 5-day, face-to-face course was provided 21 times for 168 Community Health Aides/Practitioners from 94 different Alaska communities. Written end-of-course evaluations were completed by 93 [157/168] of course participants, with 100 recommending the course for all CHWs as well as for other interested people. In addition to an increase in cancer knowledge and understanding, participants identified positive ways the course would impact their behavior: 89 [139/157] wrote health ways they intended to take better care of themselves, 90 [142/157] wrote about ways they now felt differently about cancer and 97 [153/157] wrote about how this course would help them improve the ways they take care of their patients. Extended-interval, post-course telephone interviews with 128 of 168 participants in Alaska revealed: 91 were more comfortable talking about cancer, 57 had increased patient referrals for cancer screening and 81 had increased cancer education they provided during patient encounters. Select publications describing the cancer manual and curriculum Kuhnley, R. & Cueva, M. [2011] Learning About Cancer Has Brightened My Light. Cancer Education for Alaska Community Health Aides and Community Health Practitioners [CHA/Ps] Journal of Cancer Education. 26 [3] 522-29. Cueva, M., Kuhnley, R. & Cueva, K. [2012] Enhancing Cancer Education Through the Arts: Building Connections with Alaska Native People, Cultures, and Communities. International Journal of Lifelong Education. 31 [4] 341-357. Cueva, M., Lanier, A., Kuhnley, R., & Dignan, M. [2008] Cancer Education: A Catalyst for Dialogue and Action. The IHS Primary Care Provider. 33 [1] 1-5.

Age Group(s):
Adults, Elderly

Site Type(s):
Community, Clinic/Health Center, Work site, Other: Community Health Worker Training

Health Indicator(s):
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