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Friday, April 25, 2014

UOG Cancer Research Center reps present study at APHA exposition

From left, Lawrence Alcairo (UOG youth researcher); Adrienne Gill (University of North Carolina); and Dr. Annette David (UOG Research Faculty) at the APHA Poster session in Boston, Massachusetts. (Contributed Photo) University of Guam Cancer Research Center representatives UOG adjunct research faculty Dr. Annette David and UOG student Lawrence Alcairo recently conducted a roundtable discussion of their research abstract and presentation entitled, “CREATE (Community Outreach for Action Team) – Guam: Empowering Youth to Drive Tobacco Control Policy” at the 141st Annual American Public Health Association Meeting and Exposition in Boston, Massachusetts in November. Their abstract was selected among thousands of submitted abstracts for oral presentation at the APHA meeting.

The roundtable discussion highlighted efforts by the UOG Cancer Research Center community outreach pilot program to identify and better understand reasons for tobacco use disparities among Chamorro and other Micronesian youth. The UOG CRC partnered with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Institute for Global Tobacco Control to map point of sale tobacco advertising in a random sample of tobacco retailers in Guam, using community-based participatory approaches. 

Tobacco use in Guam is the highest in the nation, where approximately one in four adults report using tobacco (Guam Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey 2012 data). In Guam, Chamorros have the highest rates in smoking and chewing tobacco.

David said, “According to 2011 data from the Youth Risk Factor Survey, Guam’s youth tobacco use mirror the adult rates, and Chamorro and other Micronesian youth display the highest rates of both cigarette smoking and chewing tobacco with areca nut/betel quid.” Cancer disparities in Guam reflect these disparities in tobacco use and other risk factors. Among Guam youth, tobacco consumption is highest among Chamorros and other Micronesians. These disparities were the reason the UOG CRC studied effective methods to reduce tobacco use among youth.

During the study, which was conducted in 2011, 32 youth and adult volunteers were trained to perform observational surveys using hand held computers equipped with Geographic Information System technology and use of Photovoice to digitally document tobacco point of sale advertising. The researchers wanted to test whether higher exposure to tobacco advertising is one of the reasons for higher tobacco use rates among Chamorro and other Micronesian youth on Guam.

“We are grateful for UOG’s leadership in cancer research and for the opportunity to represent our valuable research work at such a prestigious gathering of health professionals,” added David.

The roundtable session also featured youth-led community projects, initiatives, and research aimed at addressing health disparities in underserved youth communities. Panelists discussed components of effective youth development programs, the processes used to engage youth leaders in research and advocacy efforts, and project outcomes. David and Alcairo completed a total of three presentations to an audience consisting of various public health professional who work with youth on public health issues who came from Oklahoma, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, New York, India, and Nigeria.

According to David, “There was great interest in the methodology used by the UOG U54 team, and several requests for copies of the presentation and products were received. The overall consensus was that the outcomes from the Guam research were significant, and highlighted the key role of community driven data gathering in stimulating policy change for better health.”

Alcairo shared that “The APHA meeting highlighted the accomplishments of public health professionals and advocates across the globe and he was proud to represent Guam and its youth, as well as the University of Guam at this important meeting.”

Alcairo is currently in his junior year at the University of Guam and the son of proud parents, Guam Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sergeant (ret.) Joseph and Lilia Alcairo of Yigo. (UOG)

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