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Guide Content | Chapter 3: Marketing and Outreach

Program Spotlight: Empowering Underserved Populations Through Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Moffitt Program for Outreach Wellness Education and Resources (M-POWER)

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL


The Moffitt Program for Outreach Wellness Education and Resources (M-POWER) was created to promote and increase access to and utilization of prevention and early detection services among underserved populations. Community education and outreach activities have been a part of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute (Moffitt) since 1999, providing bilingual health education and outreach services (Haitian Creole/Spanish/English) and developing community-based partnerships. The current program was renamed M-POWER in 2007, and focuses on empowering underserved populations to make positive health choices and increasing screening behaviors through strengthening collaboration and partnerships, providing community-based health education/promotion, and increasing access to care. Program activities focus on the Tampa Bay area, but health education trainings are done throughout the entire state of Florida.

All outreach and education efforts were originally funded primarily through research grants, but when receiving the distinction of a Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2001, it transitioned into a Moffitt-funded program.  M-POWER’s programs, trainings, and workshops have shown many positive results in reducing cancer disparities among underserved populations. The program’s guiding principles are rooted in cultural and linguistic competence, health education and outreach, capacity building, partnership development, and community-based action. Outreach and education activities currently exist to educate racial and ethnic minorities, families with low socioeconomic status, non-English speakers, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, and other at-risk populations. Outreach and education activities include:

Community Health Worker Training 

A training program where community members develop skills they can use to deliver cancer education in their own communities

Promoting Breast Health Among Haitian Women – Raises awareness through culturally sensitive education in Haitian Creole; as well as links women to mammography screenings

Witness Project® of Tampa Bay – A faith-based breast and cervical cancer education program where African American survivors “witness” their stories of triumph over cancer and emphasize the importance of screenings

Moffitt Healthy KIDZ Program – A joint effort with libraries, Head Start programs, and schools that promotes healthy lifestyles and offers cancer awareness education in a fun, family-friendly environment

The EmpowerMENt Project – Focuses on men’s health and early detection through the delivery of health workshops

Yo me cuido® – A breast health education project for Latinas to promote mammography utilization and early detection

Health education workshops – A series of workshops concerning clinical trials, healthy lifestyles, and specific cancers

Sharing Lessons Learned

Why did you create this project?

Moffitt recognizes the needs of underserved populations and is committed to addressing cancer health disparities in the Tampa Bay community. Initially the program focused on mammography screenings among farmworker and rural populations. As the years progressed, additional focus was placed on racial and ethnic disparities across the Tampa Bay area. Focus was then given to the African American and Haitian communities, who were impacted greatly by cancer disparities. Upon establishing as a Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2001, the focus of the department fit within the expectations of the certification process. 

How did you identify the need for outreach to these particular communities?

According to the health disparities literature there are evident disparities among racial and ethnic minorities and people with lower socio-economic status. Therefore, it became apparent that Moffitt’s primary catchment area within Tampa Bay (Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Manatee, and Hernando Counties) also experienced health disparities. Additionally, our community partners indicated the need for culturally and linguistically tailored education about cancer prevention, screening, and healthy lifestyles.    

What challenges did you face reaching or engaging the target population(s)?

One challenge is having a small team. We are a team of 7, comprising of 4 outreach workers, 1 health educator, 1 manager and health educator and 1 administrative assistant. Also, our funding is limited but over the years we have made great efforts to increase our budget to allow for innovative programming.  For example, partnering with local restaurants has provided us an opportunity for additional fundraising. A challenge that often comes up for outreach groups is addressing gatekeepers. Every community has gatekeepers, who are valued people in the community, who often serve as leaders and speakers on behalf of their community. If a leader is not committed to your mission there are often difficulties in reaching the communities that they influence.  We have been fortunate to have an extensive amount of partners who collaborate with us to bring education to the community.  

What advice do you have on creating effective education materials and programs?

If you are designing outreach materials or products to be used by multiple audiences, be sure the text reads at a low literacy level, so that it can be used as a learning tool in communities. 

  • Know your audience.  Do they want the material or program in lay terms or in technical  
  • Utilize culturally appropriate photos (e.g. You are creating a brochure for farmworkers; make sure to use images of farmworkers not people in business suits.) 
  • Understand the differences in terminology among non-English speakers.  Use accurate words for the community you are working with.
  • Understand your audience’s norms.  What is considered taboo? (e.g. I am creating a brochure about breast cancer, would it be appropriate in the community I am working with to show images of women with exposed breast, or would it be more appropriate for some modesty, such as an illustration.)
  • Use cultural brokers, people who know the culture and can navigate between your world (research, outreach, etc.) and the community.  Community Health Workers are excellent resources and can spread your message.
  • Use evidence-based strategies as you develop your materials and programs.
  • Use literature and reliable sources to create your materials not just an Internet search.

How do you evaluate your programs?

We utilize pre and posttests to assess knowledge gained.  We also administer program evaluations to get feedback on their general opinions about the program, as well as intent to engage in screening behaviors. To assist with lower literacy populations we have transitioned to conducting the pre and posttests and program evaluations using an Audience Response System.  Participants use “clickers” to select their answers through a Power Point presentation.  We also follow up with a cohort of our participants to determine if they have received cancer screenings, specifically mammography screening.  We assess our programs periodically to determine their effectiveness and modify according to the needs of the community. 

What other advice do you have?

You have to have compassion and a passion for the community. Utilize community members to get the word out. Don’t reinvent the wheel, look to see what is around you, partner, modify, and recreate. Respect is necessary to create trust within the community. Don’t just go out to the community once for a specific project and never return. It’s a relationship, support their projects and initiatives, share information about funding opportunities or beneficial programs. 

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

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