Individual relations and community networks are assets of the functioning of a society. Integrating these components with information and communication technologies can enhance the efficiency and efficacy of community projects that aim to improve population health outcomes. Here, we present examples illustrating how building individual relations and community networks can help reduce cancer health disparities by enhancing ethnic minorities’ access to cancer screening services, through our experience in the implementation of the Integrative Multicomponent Programme for promoting south Asians’ Cancer screening upTake.1
Building individual relations, defined as the fostering of relationship with an individual, is a powerful tool for subject recruitment in health promotion projects. For example, identifying champions and explaining the purpose of the project to them is an important step in subject recruitment. Champions are people who have built trust and developed strong connections among their peers and friends with similar backgrounds. The direct contact and communication of champions with their peers and friends during subject recruitment can thus help enhance the willingness of these peers to participate in the project.2
Moreover, family support is a crucial component for ensuring individuals to engage in regular cancer screening utilization. Family caregivers can support older family members in undergoing colorectal cancer screening, by assisting them in collecting stool samples at home and submitting them for fecal immunochemical test.3 Moreover, parents play a crucial role in encouraging and supporting their children to receive human papillomavirus vaccination.4
Building community networks is another strategy for promoting success in project implementation. Individuals with different backgrounds can come together to achieve the project goal, where the strengths of each individual can complement each other for achieving better outcomes in project implementation. For instance, leaders of ethnic minority associations can provide useful input on the strategies for promoting and implementing our projects. Members of ethnic minority communities with experience in health education can also help review the content of translated educational materials used in our projects critically to ensure semantic equivalence. Moreover, ethnic minorities who work as healthcare providers, especially those with good interpersonal skills, are well positioned to act as instructors for delivering multimedia education in our health promotion projects, in languages used by ethnic minorities. Thus, they can effectively enhance community awareness and knowledge about cancer and cancer screening and how to access screening services, and encourage their peers to engage in regular cancer screening utilization.3,5
Building of networks and cooperation among ethnic minority groups, community organizations, and cancer care service providers is key to improving ethnic minorities’ access to cancer prevention and screening services. For example, to facilitate the access of older ethnic minorities to colorectal cancer screening, close cooperation between the nongovernmental organizations that provide support programs to the local ethnic minorities and general practitioners is required.3 These nongovernmental organizations serve to promote our educational program on colorectal cancer screening to the ethnic minorities, while the general practitioners provided the screening service to the ethnic minorities who attended the program. Similarly, to increase human papillomavirus vaccination uptake by eligible ethnic minority children, nongovernmental organizations, schools, and the Department of Health need to collaborate to provide information and education to parents and their children.4
Clearly, individual relations and community networks remain crucial societal assets despite the advances of technologies that have improved our healthcare and communication systems. The combined use of technologies with these assets can enhance the efficacy of healthcare services to improve the health outcomes of those in need.
2. So WKW, Law BMH, Chan CWH, Leung DYP, Chan HYL, Chair SY. Development and evaluation of a multimedia intervention to promote cervical cancer prevention among South Asian women in Hong Kong. Ethn Health
3. So WKW, Chan DNS, Law BMH, Choi KC, Krishnasamy M, Chan CWH. Effect of a family-based multimedia intervention on the uptake of faecal immunohistochemical test among South Asian older adults: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. Int J Nurs Stud
4. Chan DNS, So WKW, Lee PPK. Research report of an exploration of the challenges to and enablers of parental HPV vaccination decision for adolescent daughters among South Asian ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. https://www.eoc.org.hk/en/policy-advocacy-and-research/funding-programme-of-research-projects-on-equal-opportunities/2020-21
. Accessed August 3, 2022.
5. Wong CL, Choi KC, Chen J, Law BMH, Chan DNS, So WKW. A community health worker-led multicomponent program to promote cervical cancer screening in South Asian women: a cluster RCT. Am J Prev Med