Reducing Cancer and Cancer Disparities: Lessons From a Youth-Generated Diabetes Prevention Campaign

Dean Schillinger, Pamela M. Ling, Sarah Fine, Cherrie B. Boyer, Elizabeth Rogers, Roberto Ariel Vargas, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Wen ying Sylvia Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Adolescence and young adulthood, a period essential for determining exposures over the life-course, is an ideal time to intervene to lower cancer risk. This demographic group can be viewed as both the target audience and generator of messages for cancer prevention, such as skin cancer, obesity-, tobacco-, and human papillomavirus−related cancers. The purpose of this paper is to encourage innovative health communications that target youth; youth behavior; and the structural, environmental, and social determinants of youth behavior as critical areas of focus for cancer prevention and disparities reduction. The authors describe the rationale, processes, products, and early impacts of an award-winning youth diabetes prevention communication campaign model (The Bigger Picture) that harnesses spoken-word messages in school-based and social media presentations. The campaign supports minority adolescent and young adult artists to create content that aligns with values held closely by youth—values likely to resonate and affect change, such as defiance against authority, inclusion, and social justice. This campaign can be leveraged to prevent obesity, which is a cancer risk factor. Then, the authors propose concrete ways that The Bigger Picture's pedagogical model could be adapted for broader cancer prevention messaging for youth of color and youth stakeholders regarding tobacco-related cancers, skin cancers, and human papillomavirus−related cancers. The goal is to demonstrate how a youth-generated and youth-targeted prevention campaign can: (1) reframe conversations about cancer prevention, (2) increase awareness that cancer prevention is about social justice and health equity, and (3) catalyze action to change social norms and confront the social and environmental drivers of cancer disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S103-S113
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Publication of this article was supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an Agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under contract number: 200-2017-M-94637.

Funding Information:
Drs. Schillinger, Ling, Boyer, and Bibbins-Domingo and Ms. Sarah Fine were supported by NIH Grant P60MD006902. Dr. Schillinger was also supported by NIH Grant 2P30 DK092924 and the James Irvine Leadership Award. Elizabeth A. Rogers was supported through the UMN KL2 Scholars Career Development Program (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of NIH, Award Number UL1TR000114).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Journal of Preventive Medicine


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