Another strategy that is effective at informing a lay audience about scientific information is using website videos to discuss possible environmental risks for breast cancer Channels should be selected based on preferences of the target audience—not on the personal preferences of scientists. One major strength of developing communication geared directly toward individual-level behavior change—compared to policies—is that individual-level change is rarely controversial.
No one gets outraged when individuals decide to voluntarily change their diets, purchase behaviors, or exercise habits. Communication targeting individuals is also likely to lead to quicker changes e. However, one key weakness of this bottom-up approach is that these strategies tend to have only small to medium effects on influencing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors Reaching all members of a population is difficult, if not impossible, and even if people receive a message, this does not mean the amount of exposure was sufficient to fuel behavior change.
Therefore, a multi-pronged approach is advocated. While attempts are developed to help change the public at the individual level, scientists should simultaneously be working to change the minds of lawmakers to develop policies that could allow for a much more substantial impact on populations. Beyond communicating cancer research effectively to individuals and the public, there is also a need to anchor interventions on policies that protect their safety from carcinogens, and ensure penalties for industries whose products expose the public to cancer-related risks.
To achieve such goals, it is important for scientists and policymakers to work together to formulate evidence-based cancer policies.
What CDC Is Doing About Breast Cancer
However, so far, policymakers and scientists seem disconnected 27 , 28 , and often do not share the same priorities and values 29 — These tensions undermine the role of research in policymaking and attest to the need of dialogue between the two groups as a way of bolstering the progress made so far in the war on cancer. It is important for the policymaking and scientific communities to work closely together to ensure robust policies that address salient issues associated with breast cancer, such as exorbitant treatment costs, reduction of quality life years and loss of productivity due to employment disability, missed work days, and days spent in bed These high costs associated with breast cancer treatment point to the need for epigenetic breast cancer prevention researchers to begin to advocate for policy changes that could lead to substantial benefits for populations decades and centuries into the future.
To enhance the effectiveness of breast cancer prevention research in informing policymaking, it is imperative that scientists communicate their research findings in a way that captures the attention of policymakers because some of them, especially legislators, are inundated by the volume of policy-related information they receive 34 — One effective way to do this may not be by reaching out directly to policymakers, but instead by reaching them indirectly through the mass media—a strategy known as media advocacy The goal of media advocacy is to use a mix of both paid e.
When the topic is on the media's agenda e.
Breast Cancer Prevention - Parsemus Foundation
For example, individual researchers, or organizations like the IBCN, could start by writing a series of Op-Eds regarding policy changes that could have an impact on reducing breast cancer Researchers could also come out with a series of policy statements, and generate news coverage through manufactured press events e. Researchers may also want to initially aim small in trying to achieve policy changes.
Changes at the local level e. These local level changes could also ultimately lead to much more significant changes. For example, products required in California through Proposition 65 to carry a message stating they contain chemicals known to the state to cause cancer, can oftentimes be found across the United States—thereby extending the impact of this local policy.
Similarly, researchers could strive to enact a policy at one elementary school, one university, or in one city, banning the sale of certain foods or products that contain chemicals known to detrimentally effect the epigenome. This ban could then have ripples across the supply chain in a region, thereby essentially eliminating a potentially hazardous product in more than just the municipality with the ban. Overall, to bridge the gap between scientists and policymakers, it is necessary for these two groups to build relationships and create avenues for effective deliberations.
2. Be Physically Active
This participatory approach might encompass scholars inviting policymakers to their classes, or policymakers inviting researchers to their forums to offer input on cancer policies Although researchers and policymakers have working differences, when policymakers are faced with dilemmas, they turn to academics for alternative agendas Therefore, the role of scholars in generating policy issues cannot be underestimated. Kingdom 40 also advises that researchers join policy communities, which are composed of specialists in a given policy area. Such communities are important because they can help scientists to build networks with advocacy groups, enhance their understanding of the information needs of policymakers, and have opportunities to learn health policy language 34 , The clear strength of the top-down approach is that changing policy is likely to have long-lasting effects on society.
For example, enacting policies to fluoridate public water supplies has led to significant reductions in cavities over the last 70 years, and is cited as one of the top public health achievements of the 20th century However, changing policies is likely to be a much lengthier endeavor than seeking to change individual behaviors through campaign efforts. Therefore, advocating policy change should be seen as part of a comprehensive strategy—alongside individual behavior change—to achieve breast cancer prevention. In conclusion, neither the bottom-up nor top-down strategy should be used in isolation.
While utilizing the bottom-up approach researchers are likely to see effects rather quickly, but these effects will likely be limited to small pockets of populations, and potentially not very long lasting. Utilizing the top-down approach is likely to yield much larger dividends, but it also comes with a much longer time commitment, and no guarantee of success after years of advocacy work.
To maximize return-on-investment, breast cancer prevention researchers should seek to translate their findings simultaneously along both of these routes, and seek guidance from interdisciplinary colleagues trained in their intricacies—those in the health communication discipline. If researchers truly want to advance knowledge, part of that advancement has to be translating and disseminating their work to the public to help them act on it in meaningful ways.
Until breast cancer prevention researchers are ready to work comprehensively and share resources across disciplinary boundaries with those in communication, it is likely researchers' advancement of knowledge will stop at the peer-reviewed publication of their work—relegated to a dusty shelf or seldom used online depository—and society will potentially be no better off for it.
All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Comparison of treatment costs for breast cancer, by tumor stage and type of service.
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