Background on Individual Education
What is individual education for colorectal cancer?
- Individual education strategies work to increase colorectal cancer screening rates and reduce risk for colorectal cancer by improving knowledge, awareness, attitudes, beliefs, skills and behaviors. These strategies can refer individuals to community resources, provide counseling and support and help increase healthy lifestyle choices. For more information about healthy lifestyle-related strategies, see Nutrition, Physical Activity and Tobacco.
- Previous work shows it is important to provide information about colorectal cancer screening recommendations and to provide access to opportunities to be screened.
- Providing information, training and support through individual education can:
- increase knowledge of the risk and seriousness of developing colorectal cancer;
- increase awareness of who should receive colorectal cancer screenings and when they should receive them;
- increase awareness of where to receive screenings;
- increase awareness of behaviors associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer such as healthy eating, physical activity and not smoking and
- change attitudes and beliefs about colorectal cancer screening.
How can I use individual education to improve colorectal cancer-related behaviors?
- Individual education can help individuals find information, resources and services for colorectal cancer screening and prevention. For example, individuals may receive counseling or self-help materials through newsletters, brochures, fact sheets, websites, videos or posters. Other strategies may provide cues to action rather than specifically increasing knowledge, such as reminder phone calls or postcards.
- Most individual education strategies provide information to individuals. Some of these strategies also offer individuals opportunities to ask questions or get clarification, such as through a face-to-face or telephone session with a health educator or translation services.
- The benefit of individual education messages is their personal relevance to each individual. This means the messages can be tailored to an individual’s readiness to get information about colorectal cancer or help. For example, some individuals may not realize they need certain screenings or that their behaviors increase their risk for colorectal cancer, while others may want to know where to get screened. Colorectal cancer messages can also be tailored to an individual’s physical, mental, social, cultural or spiritual circumstances.
- Previous work shows that individual education strategies may work best when combined with strategies to create changes in policies, environments, support or awareness related to colorectal cancer (see Campaigns and Promotions and Environments and Policies for colorectal cancer)
What are the different strategies to improve colorectal cancer-related behaviors?
- Individual education on self-management can increase knowledge and self-efficacy or confidence in making health lifestyle choices. Self-management takes individuals through a process of identifying an issue, assessing routines through self-monitoring, making sense of a routine, identifying and setting a goal, contracting a change and developing an action plan to achieve the goal. This action plan may include how to overcome barriers, develop skills to overcome these barriers and create a reward system for positive changes.
- Individual education is used to build skills to improve colorectal cancer prevention. Skill-building strategies provide hands-on opportunities for individuals to learn ways to improve communication with providers and make healthy lifestyle choices.
- Individual education can be used to provide individuals with knowledge about their risk of colorectal cancer and about the types of screening tests available.
What do I need to know to develop individual education strategies?
- Individual education strategies can be based on messages for a general audience or for a specific group such as older adults. In these cases, the messages may not be specific to each individual. However, the messages can be created for preferences of different groups, such as language, cultural traditions or social activities.
- Individual education should be culturally sensitive, involve family and friends when possible and incorporate the individual’s readiness to change his or her behavior. The content of the message may focus on a wide variety of topics, such as colorectal cancer screening recommendations, risk factors associated with colorectal cancer, colorectal cancer screening opportunities,barriers to being screened or communication skill-building exercises.
- The effectiveness of individual education strategies may depend on the individual’s access to colorectal cancer screening opportunities.
- These strategies are also influenced by the media and broader social and cultural norms in the community, such as trust in health care providers.
- Individual education strategies can be delivered at one time or at regular intervals, such as weekly, monthly or quarterly. The intervention information can appear in the form of print, telephone, video, audio or electronic messages.
Who do I work with to create individual education strategies?
- To get help with your individual education strategies, you may want to work with some of the following individuals or groups:
- health departments, including health educators or providers
- health care facilities, including providers in clinics, hospitals or other health care organizations
- civic organizations or community organizations such as American Cancer Society, YMCA or senior community centers
- worksites, including wellness trainers and managers
- senior independent living facilities
- faith-based organizations
- neighborhood organizations and community members
- To promote your individual education messages, it is helpful to work with some of the following individuals or groups:
- communications or advertising agencies
- celebrities or professional athletes
- advocacy organizations
- elected officials, policy-makers, decision-makers or community leaders
- government agencies
- health care facilities, such as pharmacies, doctor’s offices or health departments
- metropolitan centers
- media, including newspaper, billboards, television, radio
- researchers and evaluators
- advertising agencies