Promoting early detection of breast cancer among Vietnamese-American women

In the United States, research has found that Vietnamese women are less likely to have heard about or participated in breast cancer screening tests than other women in the US. To improve breast cancer screening services among this demographic, an intervention targeting both Vietnamese consumers and physicians was created. The intervention, which consisted of a media-led educational campaign and a set of neighborhood-based activities was put to the test in California’s Alameda County, with Los Angeles County and Orange County serving as controls for the study. After identifying the East Oakland neighborhood as the residential heart of the Vietnamese community in Alameda County, the decision was made to establish a Vietnamese Women’s Center in one of the neighborhood’s popular storefronts. This center served as home-base for neighborhood-based interventions, which were led by a bicultural and bilingual project coordinator and volunteers. A Vietnamese Women’s Advisory Board and collaborations with community coalitions provided the center with extra support, making it possible to conduct the following outreach activities: counseling, appointment-making assistance, and referrals to free breast cancer screening services; a Vietnamese-language breast health telephone “warm” line; participation in local health fairs; presentations about breast cancer and screening to small groups; and contests with prizes to promote knowledge of breast cancer early detection methods. Informational materials for the intervention were produced in Vietnamese and distributed at a variety of community sites across the County. Culturally sensitive materials, including pamphlets, booklets, and calendars, served to provide women with information on breast carcinoma, reminders to get screened, and tips to help them navigate the health care system. Local media was also used to spread campaign information – articles and advertisements were published in Vietnamese and English-language newspapers, and local Vietnamese-language television and radio stations aired advertisements and interviews with the project coordinator. Interventions targeting Vietnamese physicians consisted of continuing medical education seminars that focused on breast cancer screening of Vietnamese women, access to follow-up mammograms, and breast cancer treatment.  Computer-assisted telephone interview surveys were conducted pre- and post-intervention with a random sample of Vietnamese women aged 40+ in both intervention and control communities to evaluate the success of this project. While the results of the project showed that the intervention had little effect among Vietnamese women in the intervention community overall, data analysis did reveal that women who reported more exposure to intervention elements were more likely to have heard of, had, or plan to have a mammogram.

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