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Health education -- methods, Papillomaviruses, Health promotion -- Hispanic American women, Cervix uteri -- Cancer -- Diagnosis, Narratives -- Health promotion


Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women globally. Latinas carry a disproportionate burden of this disease. In the United States, when compared with non-Hispanic Whites (NHW), Latinas endure much higher incidence rates (13.86 vs. 7.70 per 100,000) with mortality rates 1.5 times greater than for non-Hispanic white women . In order to address this disparity, a multidisciplinary team engaged in a transformative study to test if narrative, developed in culturally specific ways as a behavioral change communication tool, works better than non-narrative in increasing knowledge and changing attitudes and behaviors and, if so, why. This case study presents findings from Tamale Lesson, an award winning video that promotes cervical cancer screening via Pap test and prevention (via use of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine (HPV)). Tamale Lesson was compared with a non-narrative film, It’s Time, to determine if the narrative produced a stronger impact between pre-test to two weeks later and six months after viewing the film. The films are each 11 minutes in length and contain the same facts. Tamale Lesson depicts a Mexican American family’s preparation for the youngest daughter’s 15th birthday as the narrative vehicle. Findings reveal a high level of acceptance of Tamale Lesson, and significant reductions in cervical cancer disparities among Mexican American women. This case study highlights the benefits of creating a culturally competent narrative intervention, and underscores the powerful potential of narrative/storytelling in eliminating disparities worldwide.


This is the Author's peer-reviewed version of the article that was accepted for inclusion in Journal of Communication in Healthcare, before publisher editing and typesetting. The article title was changed to Tamale Lesson: a case study of a narrative health communication intervention.



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