Carrie A. Miller, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of public relations in the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, has received a $166,000 two-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to study how young adults can help increase colorectal cancer screening in rural settings.
The project aims to reduce geographic disparities in colorectal cancer screening by developing an intervention strategy in which a younger family member would be taught to encourage an older family member to get screened for colorectal cancer. Miller will work on the project with co-investigators Jeanine Guidry, Ph.D., Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., and Robert Perera, Ph.D., from Virginia Commonwealth University.
“This study will target adults in priority areas, primarily rural ‘hotspots,’ for excess colorectal cancer incidence and mortality,” Miller said.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. The goal of the new intervention is to improve rates of screening among screening age-eligible adults in rural areas, as well as to improve knowledge and awareness of cancer screening among younger adults.
“With colorectal cancer cases rising among young adults and the recommended age to begin routine screening being lowered, now is a critical time to focus on communications with young adults,” Miller said.
The new study is part of ongoing work by the STEM Translational Communication Center and the UF Health Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Population Sciences research program to develop culturally appropriate cancer communications for rural populations, with the goal of improving health literacy and screening rates.