Introduction: Cancer outcomes for people living in rural and remote areas are worse than for those living in urban areas. Although access to and quality of cancer treatment are important determinants of outcomes, delayed presentation has been observed in rural patients.
Methods: Formative research with people from rural Western Australia (WA) led to the Find Cancer Early campaign. Find Cancer Early was delivered in three regions of WA, with two other regions acting as controls. Staff delivered the campaign using a community engagement approach, including promotion in local media. Television communications were not used to minimize contamination in the control regions. The campaign evaluation was undertaken at 20 months via a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) survey comparing campaign and control regions. The primary outcome variable was knowledge of cancer signs and symptoms.
Results: Recognition and recall of Find Cancer Early and symptom knowledge were higher in the campaign regions. More than a quarter of those who were aware of the campaign reported seeing the GP as a result of their exposure.
Conclusion: Despite limited use of mass media, Find Cancer Early successfully improved knowledge of cancer symptoms and possibly led to changes in behavior. Social marketing campaigns using community development can raise awareness and knowledge of a health issue in the absence of television advertising.