MDCH Launches Cervical
Cancer Awareness Campaign
Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has launched a statewide
cervical cancer media campaign to increase general awareness of cervical
cancer screening and to encourage women to obtain Pap tests.
The campaign, which was launched in January in recognition of Cervical
Cancer Awareness Month, is designed to reach women over the age of 18,
with a special emphasis on women of African-American, Hispanic, and Arab-American
heritage. MDCH consulted with a Michigan marketing firm to develop the
media campaign, which includes television and radio spots and a direct
The Research Behind the Campaign
Although cancer of the cervix is a disease that essentially can be prevented,
treated and cured, 428 women in Michigan were diagnosed with invasive
cervical cancer in 2001, and in 2002, 114 women in our state died of the
Regular screening through the use of Pap tests is the key to preventing
deaths from cervical cancer. Therefore, the goal of the cervical cancer
media campaign is to increase the percentage of Michigan women who regularly
get screened for cervical cancer, which can ultimately reduce the incidence
and mortality of the disease.
Because MDCH Cancer Registry data indicate that the incidence of cervical
cancer in 2001 was roughly equivalent among the different age groups,
a message targeting all women in Michigan was deemed necessary.
The special emphasis on African-American, Hispanic, and Arab-American
women is based upon information from the Special
Cancer Behavioral Risk Factor Survey: 2001-2002 that indicated
that these populations were less likely to have received a Pap test within
the past three years as compared with all Michigan women over the age
The geographic coverage area of the campaign is statewide. However, the
media campaign especially targets women in southeastern Michigan and Berrien,
Alpena, and Grand Traverse counties. The media campaign is heavier in
these areas of the state because data from The
Cancer Burden in Michigan: Selected Statistics [1985-2001] show
that these areas have higher rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality
than their counterparts.
Focus Group-Honed Messages
Campaign organizers conducted focus groups in early October 2004 to gauge
participants' reactions to several television, radio, and direct mail
concepts that were developed for the campaign and designed to encourage
women to obtain a Pap test. The focus groups were segmented by market
(Detroit and Grand Rapids) and by population (African-American, Arab/Chaldean,
Hispanic, and Caucasian women).
A total of 63 women participated in this ad concept study. Cancer was
found to be a major concern among all of the groups, regardless of age,
market or population. Prior to seeing the ad concepts, women in the groups
expressed more concern about breast cancer than any other type of cancer.
Rarely did cervical cancer surface as a unique health concern, a fact
that later was found to be due to low overall awareness and familiarity
with this form of cancer.
According to the focus group results, women do not immediately recognize
the direct association between Pap tests and cervical cancer screening.
Rather, the majority of the women across all groups said they think of
the Pap test as a screen for sexually transmitted diseases in general.
Only a few women across the groups said they knew of the linkage between
cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV).
These findings reinforced the value of MDCH developing these campaign
advertisements to promote awareness of cervical cancer screening via the
The campaign team analyzed this and all the other focus group testing
results to determine what television, radio, and direct mail concepts
would be produced for the campaign. The concepts produced by MDCH are
those that captured and held participants' attention, informed them about
the importance of being screened for cervical cancer, and compelled them
to actually visit their health care provider for a Pap test.
Campaign Should Increase Screening Rates
MDCH will run the campaign's television and radio spots through March
Organizers will analyze the effectiveness of the campaign by evaluating
a number of factors, including:
cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates;
Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS)
Behavioral Risk Factor Survey Surveillance (BRFSS)
referrals to the Michigan BCCCP.
Although the BCCCP and its services are not specifically
promoted in the campaign, the toll-free number for the Michigan Health
Promotion Hotline (800-922-6266) is advertised. Women who call the hotline
can be referred to the BCCCP to determine whether they qualify for free
cervical cancer screening services.