MPH, Environmental Health
David Haynes, Kelly Hughes, Gaylynn Richards, Benita Robinson
breast cancer disparities, community health educators
Nationally, women of African heritage die at higher rates from breast cancer than women of
other races or ethnicities. We developed Breast Cancer Champions (BCC) , a peer-to-peer
education program, which recruited 12 women and deployed them into the community in August
2020 during the height of the COVID-pandemic. BCC aims to improve breast cancer screening
rates for women of African heritage through peer-to-peer education, which has proven successful
for addressing cancer-related health disparities.
BCC community experts, or “Champions,” are peer-to-peer educators that conduct awareness
and screening events in their communities. Champion’s education activities were tracked by
bi-weekly check-in calls, which recorded the activity type, location, and the number of
participants for each event. We used spatial and statistical analyses to determine the efficacy of
the program at increasing screening rates for women within the area of Champion activity versus
women outside of their activity area.
Over 15 months, Champions conducted 245 in-person or online events to engage women in their
community for screening. More women of African heritage were screened in areas champions
were active during the intervention compared to historical data comparing areas outside of the
Champion activity in the prior 15 months (X 2 = 3.0845, p = 0.079).
BCC successes could be attributed to pivoting to online community building when in-person
events were restricted and enabling Champions to design and conduct their own events, which
increased outreach possibilities. We demonstrate improved screening outcomes associated with
an updated peer-to-peer education program.