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Postdoktorandenstipendium: Forschungsprojekt CaLioS

24-monatiges Postdoktorandenstipendium zum Forschungsprojekt CaLioS "Improving cancer-related health literacy through online stories in Sub-Saharan Africa, using the example of Kenya" von Dr. Stefanie Harsch.

Every year, more people are diagnosed with cancer worldwide, in Sub-Saharan Africa, and specifically in Kenya. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, and patients and their family members need information and competences to understand the diagnosis, live with it, and make good decisions (=cancer literacy). A promising way to provide information and improve cancer literacy is through educational interventions. These interventions should be accessible from anywhere, timely, relevant, engaging, and credible. A website with testimonials from cancer patients and additional information can be a promising solution. However, no such online educational offer currently exists in Kenya, nor is there evidence on what constitutes cancer health literacy in Kenya, what an attractive online service should look like, and whether it can effectively improve cancer literacy.

In the CaLioS postdoctoral research project, we first want to better understand cancer educational offers and the cancer-related health literacy of cancer patients in Kenya. For this purpose, we will conduct qualitative semi-structured interviews with experts (cancer patients, cancer NGOs, health care providers, and health education specialists) to identify the informational and competence needs of cancer patients and their relatives, map educational offers on cancer in Kenya, and explore the perceived potential of using (digital) testimonials to promote cancer literacy and how an appealing and informative website should be designed.

Dr. Stefanie HarschBased on this, we will develop a framework model for cancer literacy in Kenya and a website for promoting cancer literacy in Kenya (inspired by a good-practice example from the UK) which are content, context, language, and culture specific. The website's core will be interviews with breast and prostate cancer patients from Kenya, which will be pedagogically edited, categorized based on relevant topics and shared online and on social media. This website aims to support newly diagnosed cancer patients (and their family members) in Kenya to improve their cancer literacy, such as the ability to understand the disease, treatment, and life with it, and get ideas on how to cope and improve their quality of life. In addition, the content of the narrative interviews with breast and prostate cancer patients will be analyzed with grounded theory to inform healthcare providers and inspire a more patient-centered care.

Last, we will conduct a feasibility study to evaluate whether this online offer improves the cancer literacy of cancer patients more than the standard cancer education offer (effectiveness). For this purpose, newly diagnosed cancer patients will be invited to participate in the study and either get immediately or after a waiting period access to the website in addition to the common educational interventions. In a pretest and posttest study, we will explore the website's acceptability, practicability, and effectiveness in improving cancer patients' cancer literacy, coping skills, and quality of life compared to standard educational offers.

Finally, with cooperation partners from selected other Sub-Saharan African countries, we will apply for a larger grant to extend this intervention to other diseases and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and explore the development, implementation, and effectiveness  scientifically.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Stefanie Harsch, PostDoc at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany
Funding period: 01.06.2023 - 31.05.2025
Source of funding: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, selected by German Alliance for Global Health Research
Grant number: 01KA2305

Dr. Diana Kassaman, Aga Khan University,

Dr. Victor Oria, Integrated Cancer Research Foundation of Kenya & an advisory board



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