Impact of a Cancer Education Curriculum on Appalachian Kentucky Middle and High School Students

Lauren Hudson-Rose, L. Todd Weiss, Nathan L. Vanderford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Appalachian Kentucky is disproportionately affected by elevated cancer incidence and mortality rates. This disparity is driven by inequities in health behaviors and social determinants of health including decreased education attainment levels that cause lower health literacy. To increase cancer literacy in the region, a three-part cancer education curriculum was designed for Appalachian Kentucky middle and high school students. This study was designed to evaluate the effect the curriculum had on students’ cancer literacy. The curriculum lessons were disseminated to Appalachian Kentucky middle and high school teachers who engaged 223 students with the material. For each lesson, students filled out a 10-question pretest and an identical 10-question posttest. The average and median percent of correct responses from the pre- to posttests were analyzed. The average percentage of correct responses significantly increased from 40% to 70%, 52% to 69%, and 33% to 53% on lessons 1, 2, and 3, respectively. A significant increase in the average percentage of correct responses on each individual question was also observed. The results demonstrate that the three-part cancer education curriculum intervention can significantly increase Appalachian Kentucky middle and high school students’ cancer literacy. Increased cancer knowledge has the potential to encourage behavioral modifications that could reduce cancer incidence and mortality rates over time. Future work will include further improving the content relative to the target age/grade level and implementing the material with a broader group of teachers and students.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the University of Kentucky’s Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program (NCI R25 CA221765) and the Markey Cancer Center’s Cancer Center Support Grant (NCI P30CA17755). Lauren Hudson-Rose was supported by the Professional Student Mentored Research Fellowship (PSMRF) Program funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through Grant UL1TR001998, UK HealthCare, and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

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


  • Appalachian Kentucky
  • Cancer curriculum
  • Cancer disparities
  • Cancer education
  • Cancer literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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