Because most cases of colorectal cancer occurs in the older adult population ages 50 and older, schools have a smaller role in colorectal cancer interventions. School-based interventions can help students, parents, teachers and administrators increase colorectal cancer awareness and lifestyles that increase or decrease colorectal cancer risk in small ways through different types of outreach to the at-risk population. For example, schools can provide information about colorectal cancers for students to take home or supply benefits for staff that cover colorectal cancer screenings. Schools are usually good resources for the broader community. School-based interventions should provide plenty of resources and support to teachers, administrators and staff to reach the adult community.
School-based interventions work best when used with interventions in other settings:
- Community-based settings: schools can host colorectal cancer information opportunities for community members
- Worksite-based settings: worksites can develop flexible work leave policies that make parent participation in school activities an option for employees
- Faith-based settings: schools can let faith-based organizations use school facilities and equipment to host events that encourage members to learn about the cancer and to explore screening opportunities
- Health care facility-based settings: school nurses can refer families to health care providers for screening facilities
- Home-based settings: schools can send letters to parents to educate them about updated colorectal cancer information and screening recommendations
Things to consider for school-based interventions:
- Schools work with students, teachers and parents most days of the week. Information about colorectal cancers can be given in ways like parent newsletters, Channel One programming, student newspapers or daily announcements. These can be used to help increase awareness of colorectal cancer.
- School-based interventions can be challenging to implement because teachers do not have much contact with the at-risk adult population.
- School success relies on people working well together. It is important to include as many teachers and staff as possible so that decisions are made by everyone.
- Education programs in schools may work best when students learn colorectal cancer information to discuss with their parents. This could include family health histories and lifestyles that increase or decrease colorectal cancer risk. Promotion of appropriate ages for screening is also a helpful strategy for students to discuss with parents.
- Colorectal cancer programs in schools can help strengthen relationships between school nurses and student families. This may allow school nurses to intervene in other health issues.
- It is important to include parents in school-based programs in meaningful and practical ways such as sending home newsletters, allowing parents to contribute to the curriculum, creating volunteer opportunities and offering parent education sessions.
- Administrative support is key in maintaining faculty and staff interest and motivation. Time and resources should be provided for the intervention. The administrators must be visibly involved and supportive of colorectal cancer interventions.
- Group education sessions implemented in schools have the capacity to reach a population that might not otherwise have access to clinical information.
- In community or school settings, intervention strategies often include informational support (health information), tangible support (skills and abilities) and appraisal support (acceptance and belonging).