In April and May 2015, CommonHealth ACTION collaborated with Susan G. Komen® to conduct 10 focus groups with female residents of the National Capital Region, including Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA, to gather information on breast cancer education, outreach, screening, treatment, and support services. Seventy-five community residents who identified as female, between the ages of 20-64 years old, and lived in Washington, DC (Wards 2, 5, 7 or 8) or Alexandria, VA, were offered the opportunity to reflect on their experiences or any challenges they have encountered in the Washington, DC region within guided, small group discussions. Washington, DC has the highest breast cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States. The region also has one of the highest incidence rates of late-stage breast cancer and women of color experience the highest rates of breast cancer mortality.
With established partners in Washington, DC communities, CommonHealth ACTION engaged community-based organizations and providers to target for participant outreach. Community-based organizations were recommended by Susan G. Komen® and other stakeholders, including health care providers, researchers, community organizations, faith based organizations, and government agencies.
Focus group participants offered a range of recommendations for improving access to services. Many suggested that mobile breast health screening vans park outside of areas that residents congregate the most. They also suggested the need for comprehensive services that would be free and provide transportation, childcare, and tailored support for females needing care. This support could come from providers, nurses, navigators, or peers. In one focus group that was held with breast cancer survivors, participants expressed the need for navigators or peer support in their communities, where there is a lack of resources as well as a gap in education and awareness. One participant offered, “it would be nice if newly diagnosed women could be peer matched up with someone who is going through the process or maybe a little further along on in the process, maybe like maybe two categories ahead. A lot of women in the community, they just won’t know about stuff.” Another participant suggested that there is a need for better education, particularly related to breast cancer detection, atypical symptoms, and various types of breast cancer.
The information gathered from the focus groups will inform the update of the 2015 Susan G. Komen® National Capital Region Community Profile. The Profile will supply new data, identify trends and themes, and illuminate the challenges and opportunities of females living in the Washington, DC region to improve breast health and cancer programs and services. The Profile will be available to healthcare providers, communities, researchers, and other stakeholders in late 2015.
Download Attachments: National Capital Region Breast Health Focus Groups Findings Report
National Capital Region Breast Health Focus Groups
Susan G. Komen: 02/2015 to 06/2105