The Center for Equal Health (CEH), a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Exploratory Center of Excellence, is a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach between the University of South Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center. The aim of CEH is to address and reduce cancer health disparities within minority and underserved populations in the Tampa Bay community and throughout the state of Florida. CEH is made up of five cores working towards this aim; these include the Administrative Core, Research Core, Research Training and Education Core, Comparative Effectiveness Research in Eliminating Disparities Core, and Community Engagement and Outreach Core. Specifically, the Community Engagement and Outreach Core (CEOC) has been working to strengthen, enhance, and expand meaningful community-academic partnerships within the Tampa Bay area. This has been accomplished through innovative community awareness and outreach activities such as implementing a community health advisor program; conducting talking circles, cancer education workshops, health fairs, and science tours; and creating a series of cancer prevention and research messages delivered via print, radio, or podcasts.
In an effort to fulfill the Center’s goal to actively be involved in the community, CEOC has utilized the Audience Response Systems in the community for two separate events. One was at a community health fair event while educating the community about clinical research. The other event, which this manuscript focuses on, was a cancer education workshop called the Gathering of Neighborhood Voices Town Hall. The CEOC piloted the Audience Response System during the Town Hall event to give the community an enjoyable experience and to reach out to community members in an innovative way. The event included a local news anchor as the moderator, expert panelists and community members who engaged in a dialogue about cancer health disparities. The panelists represented a physician, a pharmacist, a public health researcher, a health communications expert, and a community-based organization worker. The Town Hall event was held in the community of East Tampa. East Tampa is made up of 95% African Americans and has an estimated 38% of people who are below the poverty line (Florida Department of Community Affairs, 2007
). In addition, East Tampa has been considered a Community Redevelopment Area, a designation determined by factors of slum and/or blight, as defined by Florida Statutes (East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership, n.d.
). The designation is intended to help communities improve infrastructures, preserve historic structures, and ultimately enhance the community through local government tax increment revenues. The determination of East Tampa as a Community Redevelopment Area emphasizes the needs and disparities that are within this community.
The purpose of the Gathering of Neighborhood Voices Town Hall event was to: increase community members’ knowledge and awareness of cancer health disparities; obtain feedback from the community about their needs and their views of cancer; engage in an open dialogue with the community and answer questions about cancer health disparities they might have; educate the community about the Center for Equal Health; and build a partnership and trust with the community. Research approval was received from the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board for the Town Hall event. ARS was used to assess the community’s demographic characteristics, basic pre and post knowledge of cancer health disparities, and satisfaction of the Town Hall.
At the start of the event, an explanation on how to use the ARS keypads was given. There is a frequency box attached to the laptop with the PowerPoint presentation which picks up the keypad signals. We explained the similarities between the ARS keypads and TV remotes which helped the audience understand how to use the keypads. Additionally, the audience was asked to answer a simple yes/no question to practice with the keypad before beginning the program. The questions asked during the program using the ARS are listed in . The participants were asked to answer basic demographic questions first, which helped them become even more familiar with the keypads before answering questions related to cancer health disparities. The moderator read aloud each question and gave participants enough time to answer using the ARS keypads. After the questions related to cancer health disparities were answered, the panelists would give his or her input and then open a discussion up for audience feedback and questions.
Questions asked using the Audience Response System and the corresponding response options
There were about 60 people in attendance at the Town Hall event and everyone was willing to use the ARS keypads. A majority were female (62%), ages 30–59 years old (73%) and African American (80%). Participants responded favorably toward using ARS, enjoyed the added interactions that resulted from this approach, and appreciated being able to see how everyone else answered. shows selected results from the ARS and the percentages of the responses. When asked how much the audience liked using ARS, 93% of them responded they either liked or loved using the system. Importantly, participants stated on comment cards that they felt “included in the research process.”
Percentages of responses from selected questions using the Audience Response System