Training Appalachian Kentucky Youth Cancer Advocates

Lauren Hudson, Chris Prichard, L. Todd Weiss, Melinda J. Ickes, Nathan L. Vanderford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Kentucky has the highest cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States, with the Appalachian region experiencing the highest of those rates. Cancer advocacy, which is defined as providing support to cancer patients and their communities, represents a means of decreasing the cancer cases in Appalachian Kentucky. This exploratory study examined the effects of advocacy training and experiential learning on Appalachian high school students' cancer advocacy attitudes and self-efficacy. Methods The design of this study was a mixed-methods, one-group repeated measure with a group of participants from the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program (N = 9). The study assessed advocacy attitudes and self-efficacy before and after participants were provided advocacy training and participated in an advocacy event. Results Participating students' attitudes and self-efficacy did not substantially change following the training and their participation in an advocacy event. Through their comments after the event, however, students seem eager to use their voices to influence the actions of state legislators. At the same time, they worry about the apathy of their community members to their cancer advocacy message. Conclusions Youth represent potentially powerful agents of advocacy that could help address the cancer burden in Kentucky. Participants in this study likely overestimated their advocacy abilities before learning more about advocacy and participating in the process. As such, additional trainings are likely necessary to increase students' self-efficacy, encourage them to share their stories, and help them overcome perceived barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-360
Number of pages5
JournalSouthern Medical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


  • Appalachia
  • cancer advocacy
  • youth training programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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