Effective Community Outreach and Engagement Strategies

By: Rev. Adrian Backus

PHEN Director of Community Outreach and Engagement

“The Importance of Community Outreach and Engagement on Eliminating the Prostate Cancer Racial Disparity” was a session hosted during PHEN’s 16th Annual African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit. Panelists for the session addressed this question:

Why is African American prostate health critical?  How might black churches more effectively participate in community outreach, and what can be done to increase participation in research, treatment, and prostate cancer care through black church engagement?

Duke University Divinity School’s Black Church Studies Director Dr. David Emmanuel Goatley pointed out that black churches can be effective community outreach and engagement partners to eliminate prostate cancer health disparities in the black community given their non-homogenous (wide and varied) distributive networks.  

According to the panelists there are three prerequisites for effective outreach and engagement:

  • There must be a common commitment to address prostate cancer health inequities.

  • A wholistic healthcare approach and atmosphere of health and wellness must be created.

  • Well-coordinated communications outreach is key.   Social media campaigns can play an important role.

Reverend Leroy Miles, Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA reported that having PSA, PBD, oral, eye, heart, diabetes screenings occurring simultaneously at health events had effectively transformed their “church into a hospital.”  While Reverend Joseph P. Deck, III, Senior Minister to Men at Reid Temple A. M. E. Church in Glen Dale, MD explained how designing sports and “man cave” events were a creative and effective way of increasing male participation.

The importance of collaboration and partnerships cannot be underestimated according to the panelists. The PHEN/church partnership provides black churches an opportunity to “engage medical professionals from the pews, “according to Reverend Miles. Mr. Michael Shaw, Director, Office of Urban Male Health, Alameda County, CA, Public Health Department, pointed out that PHEN’s African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit spurred efforts in his office. PHEN helped to connect his office to other local area California churches and community leaders, to an institutional entity on genomics, and other national prostate cancer groups and patient advocate leaders.

Dr. Lorna H. McNeil, Professor and Chair in the Department of Health Disparities Research, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX addressed the needs of Cancer centers. She stressed that centers are charged with having evidence-based programs and must include the voices that they serve. Dr McNeil stated that often there were key advantages to using clinical settings to effectively engage black men in prostate cancer initiatives.

Rev. Tammie Denyse, CEO of Carrie’s Touch in Sacramento, CA, a breast cancer advocacy organization, spoke about partnering with PHEN.  Working together brings synergized attention to both breast and prostate cancer and highlights wellness initiatives for black men and women. 

The complete session was recorded and is available here on PHENTV.com 


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