How can the Irish Cancer Society adapt and deliver cancer prevention information to men over 40 years of age, from lower socioeconomic groups, taking into account potential health literacy and numeracy barriers?

Key Information

Cancer type: 
All Cancers
Research Institution: 
University College Cork
Start date: 
May 16, 2016
End date: 
November 18, 2016

Scientific Project Abstract

Cancer incidence and mortality is higher among men than women in Ireland. Gender-specific cancer prevention programmes by the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) have sought to address this. While successful, these programmes more often reach the worried well than those in lower socioeconomic groups and/or with lower Health Literacy (HL).

The objective is to identify the facilitators and barriers which impact on men with low HL, in seeking, understanding and acting upon ICS cancer prevention information. Health promotion strategies focus increasingly on a socioecological approach. Therefore, the socioecological model (SEM)1 which describes the impact of five levels of influence (i.e. Individual, Interpersonal, Organisational, Community and Policy) on health behaviours will be used to underpin this study.

Researchers will undertake a sequential, mixed methods explanatory study.

Men, aged ≥40 years, from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, will be invited to participate in focus groups or individual interviews, through two organisations; Men’s Health Forum in Ireland, Men’s Groups of Ireland and community groups. Focus groups/interviews will be conducted using a topic guide and framework analysis to investigate men’s:

  • Awareness, mode of encountering, and understanding of cancer prevention information
  • Preferred mode of presentation, and delivery of information
  • Information seeking behaviours.

Researchers will assess comprehension of spoken, visual and written ICS cancer prevention campaigns using adapted versions of the Cancer Message Literacy Test-Listening’ and ‘Test-Reading’ instruments3 (phase 1). Based on findings and literature review, a survey will be developed and disseminated to 400 men nationally to gain a generalizable perspective (phase 2).

For the non-scientist

One-line description: 
To understand the general and gender-specific barriers to accessing Society cancer prevention information in men aged over 40 years old, particularly men from lower socioeconomic groups
What this project involves: 

Health literacy is defined as “the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information.” It has been identified that there are high levels of poor health literacy in Ireland and those with poor health literacy are less likely to:

  • Understand cancer risk
  • Understand the need for cancer screening
  • Participate in cancer prevention efforts.

In 2013, the Irish Cancer Society commissioned a report looking at cancer incidence and death from a gender perspective in Ireland. The report noted that a significant difference exists in death and survival outcomes between men and women and that there is a need for more specific and effective targeting of men.

This research will inform the Society how they can adapt and better deliver cancer prevention information to men over 40 years of age, from lower socioeconomic groups, taking into account any potential health literacy and numeracy barriers.