A Framework for Culturally Relevant Online Learning: Lessons from Alaska’s Tribal Health Workers

Katie Cueva, Melany Cueva, Laura Revels, Anne P. Lanier, Mark Dignan, K. Viswanath, Teresa T. Fung, Alan C. Geller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Culturally relevant health promotion is an opportunity to reduce health inequities in diseases with modifiable risks, such as cancer. Alaska Native people bear a disproportionate cancer burden, and Alaska’s rural tribal health workers consequently requested cancer education accessible online. In response, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium cancer education team sought to create a framework for culturally relevant online learning to inform the creation of distance-delivered cancer education. Guided by the principles of community-based participatory action research and grounded in empowerment theory, the project team conducted a focus group with 10 Alaska Native education experts, 12 culturally diverse key informant interviews, a key stakeholder survey of 62 Alaska Native tribal health workers and their instructors/supervisors, and a literature review on distance-delivered education with Alaska Native or American Indian people. Qualitative findings were analyzed in Atlas.ti, with common themes presented in this article as a framework for culturally relevant online education. This proposed framework includes four principles: collaborative development, interactive content delivery, contextualizing learning, and creating connection. As an Alaskan tribal health worker shared “we’re all in this together. All about conversations, relationships. Always learn from you/with you, together what we know and understand from the center of our experience, our ways of knowing, being, caring.” The proposed framework has been applied to support cancer education and promote cancer control with Alaska Native people and has motivated health behavior change to reduce cancer risk. This framework may be adaptable to other populations to guide effective and culturally relevant online interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-653
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, American Association for Cancer Education.


  • Alaska Native
  • Community health workers
  • Community-based participatory action research
  • Health disparities
  • Health promotion
  • Online learning
  • Program planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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