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Training the Trainers

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Guide Content | Chapter 3: Marketing and Outreach

Program Spotlight: Family Health History Community Liaison Program

Institute for Cultural Partnerships


In 2005, The Institute for Cultural Partnerships (ICP), Genetic Alliance, American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, and American Society of Human Genetics developed a nonmedical FHH tool called Healthy Choices through Family Health History Awareness Tool. The tool was created specifically for community members in Harrisburg PA, a community of largely African Americans and Latinos. In 2007 ICP collaborated with Genetic Alliance and seven other organizations to modify the Healthy Choices tool to fit different audiences, creating and piloting customized family health history tools for each community (Cooperative Agreement U33 MC06836). 

ICP gathered qualitative data during the pilot on common barriers to gathering family health history (FHH) information and “facilitators” that motivated individuals to overcome barriers. Focus group and survey data revealed that there were multiple barriers to gathering FHH data. Recruitment for this project was conducted by lay community researchers, or community liaisons, a model continued from the initial pilot. Liaisons completed a four-hour training on the basics of FHH, use of the toolkit, and survey techniques. Liaisons were rewarded with $40 in gift cards to a local food store for each family who successfully completed the project.  Recruitment was conduced in multiple venues, including several Baptist and nondenominational churches, monthly meetings of cancer survivors, a monthly food ministry, and educational workshops for diabetics at a federally qualified health center in Harrisburg.  Community liaisons also recruited participants directly through their personal networks. 

Read more about this project in the monograph, Community Centered Family Health History Collaboration Across Communities: How Do You Make Research Community- Specific and Universally Relevant?

Sharing Lessons Learned

How did using community liaisons benefit your outreach efforts?

Recruitment worked best when it was conducted within a social network that conferred a degree of trust and a context for continued contact with project staff. Having community liaisons reach out to their personal networks and through their trusted circles helped participants feel more comfortable with participating in the project.

What other strategies were especially helpful in recruiting participants?

Partnerships with key stakeholders in neighborhood revitalization efforts facilitated an element of trust that was vital to the success of the project. ICP partnered with faith-based organizations, including Central Pennsylvania United to Fight Cancer (CATALYST), a volunteer-based organization with the mission of improving the cancer survival rates of ethnic and minority persons in the region, and Fountain Gate Church and Ministries, a nondenominational, predominately African American church whole monthly Angel Food Ministry served as a primary venue for project recruitment.

Do you have another question about this program? Click here to ask a question.

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