A collaborative team of highly-experienced cancer prevention and control investigators from the Four Corners Cancer Centers Collaborative (University of Arizona, University of Colorado, University of New Mexico, and University of Utah), Colorado State University, and Klein Buendel is launching a research study that focuses on decreasing cancer risk factors among emerging adults (ages 18-26) living in rural counties in the “Four Corners” states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) using a social media campaign. Cancer risks related to infrequent physical activity, unhealthy diet, nicotine product use, alcohol intake, ultraviolet radiation exposure and lack of HPV vaccination are prevalent among emerging adults and contribute to cancer later in life.

The project will test a theory-based, multi-risk factor social media approach to cancer prevention through the use of Facebook and its private group function. Social media can improve information dissemination, credibility, and relevance, be used to detect and respond to emerging trends, and engage users with user-generated content that personalizes information. It offers a superior intervention for emerging adults compared to health care, schools, and workplaces which can be challenging to implement in low-resourced rural communities and will not reach many emerging adults who have low preventive health care utilization, school enrollment, and/or employment.

#4Corners4Health Specific Aims

  • Develop a social media intervention for diverse emerging adults in rural communities via a community-engaged process that combines expert advice, user-generated content, and online instruction about behavioral cancer risks, cancer misinformation, counter marketing, digital and media literacy, and family communication.
  • Evaluate the effect of a theory-based social media intervention on moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), health eating patterns, nicotine product use, alcohol intake, sunburn prevalence, and HPV vaccination with the diverse (ethnically/ socioeconomically) population of emerging adults aged 18-26 in rural counties in the Four Corner states recruited from Qualtrics’ survey panel and enrolled in a pragmatic randomized trial using a stepped-wedge design in which individual emerging adults will be randomized to one of four cohorts and receive social media feed for varying durations in separate Facebook private groups.
  • Test if improvements in merging adults cancer risk knowledge and beliefs, digital and media literacy skills, accurate cancer prevention information, and family communication mediate impact of the social media campaign.
  • Explore whether the impact of the social media campaign differs according to a) level of emerging adults engagement with campaign, b) cancer risk factors, and c) biological sex of the participants.

The investigators hypothesize that (1) emerging adults will increase MVPA and healthy eating pattern, reduce nicotine product and alcohol use, and sunburns, and increase HPV vaccine uptake from pre to post when receiving social media campaign, and (2) positive impact of the social media campaign on cancer risk factors among emerging adults will be mediated by improved cancer risk knowledge and beliefs (self-response efficacy; norms; social support; vaccine antecedents), digital and media literacy skills, misinformation, and family communication.

This research will be led by Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel and Dr. Andrew Sussman from the University of New Mexico (Multiple Principal Investigators). It is being funded by a 5-year R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute (CA268037). Key collaborators include Dr. Kimberly Henry from Colorado State University; Dr. Cindy Blair from the University of New Mexico; Dr. Judith Gordon, Dr. Cynthia Thomson, and Dr. Jennifer Hatcher from the University of Arizona; Dr. Evelinn Borrayo and Dr. Douglas Taren from the University of Colorado; Dr. Deanna Kepka, Dr. Echo Warner, and Dr. David Wetter from the University of Utah; and Dr. Gill Woodall, Dr. Barbara Walkosz, Dr. Kayla Nuss, and Ms. Julia Berteletti from Klein Buendel.

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