Health  Vol.6 No.5 , February 2014
Lay health educator role in improving cancer screening rates in underserved communities

There are inequities in cancer screening among people living in one large province in Canada; these include breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening. The use of peer support or lay health educator models is often used in promoting health behaviours to communities. This paper outlines some of the conceptual understandings of peer support and lay health educator models and describes an application of a lay health educator program called Screening Saves Lives. The program structure and activities are discussed as well as lessons learned over a period of six years. Three key theoretical perspectives support the design of the model Health Belief Model, Stages of Change model and PRECEDE model. The program has reached over 35,000 community members within one region using laypersons who are trained in providing tailored messages on cancer screening, supporting and follow-up. Additionally, the program has been a catalyst in identifying barriers to cancer screening and enables positive changes in the health care system. Screening Saves Lives is currently being scaled to other communities in the province.

Cite this paper: Pinto, R. , Flynn, S. , Jorge, F. and Virani, T. (2014) Lay health educator role in improving cancer screening rates in underserved communities. Health, 6, 328-335. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.65048.

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