Urban Cancer Project

I collaborated with Public Health Television (PHTV) between 1998 and 2008 to produce the Urban Cancer Project. PHTV is an independent production company based in Cleveland that specializes in creating and implementing video-based outreach campaigns for underserved populations. We developed and tested a culturally-specific production process with five grants funded by the National Cancer Institute. The largest grant led to the creation of a media campaign called the Urban Cancer Project.

The Urban Cancer Project was a collaboration between PHTV, the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the residents of Cleveland’s public housing community. The purpose was to design and test the effectiveness of a video-based campaign to address three key issues related to cancer disparities affecting African Americans – awareness & screening; clinical trials participation; and the cultural competency of physicians who care for minority patients. Producers conducted 44 focus group sessions with African American residents of Cleveland’s public housing estates to gain an understanding of barriers that keep low-income African Americans from getting screened for cancer, adhering to treatment, and participating in clinical research studies.

This research, which spanned a three-year period and involved over 200 public housing residents, afforded producers a unique understanding of the fears and ethnomedical beliefs held by members of this target population regarding the healthcare system. Focus group participants became the “directors” of the production by framing how their community was represented in stories, as well as by earmarking appropriate visuals and topics to highlight in reports.