Introducing Acupuncture to Black Survivors for Wellness

Institution: Women of Color Breast Cancer Survivors Support Project
Investigator(s): Carolyn  Tapp ,  - Michael  Johnston , Ph.D. -
Award Cycle: 2006 (Cycle 12) Grant #: 12AB-3801 Award: $5,676
Award Type: CRC Pilot Award
Research Priorities
Community Impact of Breast Cancer>Health Policy and Health Services: better serving women's needs

This is a collaboration with: 12AB-3800 -

Initial Award Abstract (2006)
The proposal described below was awarded a $10,000 planning grant to enable the applicants to strengthen the scientific and community elements of their project, as detailed in the scientific review evaluation document, and incorporate these elements into a new application for the 2007 funding cycle.

Introduction to the research topics: One potential, unexplored avenue that may be an asset in reducing health disparities for African-American breast cancer survivors is acupuncture, the insertion of extremely fine needles into specific points on the body. Medical scientists have shown through numerous studies that acupuncture is a useful modality for improving wellness in survivors by reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. African-Americans are much less likely than members of other racial groups to utilize acupuncture health services. The focus of our intervention is NOT to persuade participants to increase acupuncture utilization but on factors influencing decision-making about expansion of participantsí personal healthcare provider network to consider including an acupuncturist.

The question(s) or central hypotheses: We hypothesize that one reason African-American breast cancer survivors are less likely to expand their personal network of healthcare providers to include an acupuncturist is because they lack personal experience, contacts with experienced recipients, socio-cultural knowledge, and familiarity with the relevant scientific and informed lay literature on acupuncture.

The general methodology: An educational workshop consisting of four evening seminars will be delivered to twenty-five representative African-American breast cancer survivors in a city (Inglewood) with a substantial African-American population. An African-American community group of breast cancer survivors will develop the workshop in conjunction with a scientific partner and board of scientific and community experts and then deliver it to the community. Members of the community group will be trained to carry out interviews about the workshops, following a carefully designed interview schedule that will assist them to systematically ask participants about their knowledge, experience, contacts, and familiarity with literature of acupuncture before, during, and after the workshop.

Innovative elements of the project: Although social and medical scientists often treat the decisions that individuals make about health care providers as individualist, they are more often made in a social network and involve changes to their personal social network of healthcare providers. To frame this study, we employ a new theoretical framework known as network science. Network science applied to this topic theorizes individuals as making a decision about expanding their personal network of healthcare providers to include an acupuncturist. Furthermore, this study is also innovative given the low current utilization of acupuncture by African-Americans and the lack of previous efforts to increase awareness of this modality in this group.

Community involvement: The community has played a substantial role in all phases of the development of this research and the application process through numerous face-to-face meetings and teleconferences. They will be involved in developing the workshop and research materials. They will be primarily responsible for delivering the workshop and carrying out the interviews. Recognizing the barriers to community involvement in data analysis, we have specifically developed modules for the scientific researcher to teach and involve community members in data analysis. The community team will take the lead in writing reports and disseminating them to the community about the potential of acupuncture for African-American breast cancer survivors to promote wellness.


Final Report (2008)
This $10,000 planning grant was awarded in response to the CBCRP Councilís interest in the February 2006 grant application which was not funded, but was of sufficient interest that the Council thought it worthwhile to encourage a strong revised grant proposal in 2007. The specific aims of this planning grant were for the CO-PIís and community members to work together to strengthen both the research design and methodology and the working partnership in order to revise and resubmit a grant proposal for the 2007 cycle of CRC funding.

The focus of the planning project was to examine the hypothesis that one important reason African-American breast cancer survivors are less likely to expand their personal network of healthcare providers to include an acupuncturist is because they lack personal experience, contacts with experienced recipients, socio-cultural knowledge, and familiarity with the relevant scientific and informed lay literature on acupuncture.

As a part of year-long the revision process, the collaborators conducted focus groups in the African American survivor community and had several partnership meetings to discuss the project and work together on the revised application. An application was submitted for the 2007 funding cycle, but again was not funded.