A Qualitative Study of Participant Perceptions of a Cancer Research Education Program

Olivia Allran, Nathan L. Vanderford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kentucky ranks first in the nation in cancer incidence and mortality rates, with the greatest burden of disease being in the Appalachian region. The cancer disparities in the Appalachian region of the state are tied to high poverty rates, low education attainment, low health care access, and high rates of poor health behaviors, such as tobacco use. The University of Kentucky (UK) Markey Cancer Center (MCC) developed the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) program to address the cancer and education disparities in the region. ACTION is a two-year program that focuses on cancer education and training for high school and undergraduate students from Appalachian Kentucky and features a variety of cancer-focused training activities, including faculty-mentored cancer research, clinical shadowing opportunities, cancer education activities, career development support, and community outreach projects. ACTION has been funded by the National Cancer Institute as a Youth Enjoy Science R25 research education program since 2018. The qualitative study herein used a semi-structured interview approach to identify participants’ perceptions of the program including the influential aspects that have helped students pursue their desired academic career paths. Ten ACTION alumni were chosen to participate in the study, including students currently in medical school, graduate school, physician assistant school, and pharmacy school. Thematic analysis generated five themes: motivation for participation, career development, mentorship and future opportunities, knowledge gained, and program improvements. Overall, this study demonstrates that the ACTION program is having a significant impact on students’ career preparation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1853-1860
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s) under exclusive licence to American Association for Cancer Education.


  • Appalachian Kentucky
  • Cancer research
  • Career development
  • Research education program
  • Workforce development
  • Youth enjoy science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'A Qualitative Study of Participant Perceptions of a Cancer Research Education Program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this