Health promotion and early detection of cancer in older adults: A practical approach

Margaret Muir, Marlene Greenberg, Susan Plante, Margaret Fitch, Linda Levstein, Eva King


Little is known about the cancer-related knowledge, attitudes and health behaviours of older adults (>55 years), or about designing health promotion and early detection interventions responsive to their learning needs. A collagorative project was established with the intent of designing an appropriate program for older adults. The initial work included a community needs assesment using focus groups, one-on-one interviews and self-report surveys. The use of key community contacts was effective in locating older adult subjects (>55 years) through pre-established linkages with agencies. Various ethnocultural groups, low income communities and isolated individuals, as well as other pro-established groups, were included in this study. The needs assessment found that: age is not perceived as a cancer risk factor; transportation is a barrier to screening; family and peers are the main source of support, ethnospecific groups have different information needs; and finally, that lifestyle suggestions can reduce the risk of cancer. The findings indicated that community health promotion programs for older adults will require multiple approaches with a combination of strategies in order to meet their learning needs.

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