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Findings Series 2 - Glasgow Public Involvement in Cancer Study

Date: April 2007
Category: Briefing Paper
Author: Pete Seaman

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This paper outlines the findings from an investigation into how people in deprived areas perceive cancer, health and health promotion activities with a view to informing future health improvement initiatives.

The investigation used a rapid appraisal mixed method approach using both qualitative and quantitative methods to collect information on how cancer information is received, interpreted and acted upon.  In-depth interviews with key informants, focus groups with residents and open stalls and semi-structured questionnaires in key community sites were used in three selected areas of Glasgow:  Shettleston, Govan and the Gorbals.  Community profiles were also developed to illustrate the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of each area alongside cancer incidence and mortality data.   


Key findings of this paper are:

  • Individuals critically interpret health promotion advice in light of personal experience. 
  • The way in which health promotion advice is received can be filtered by the age and gender of the recipient.
  • A sense of personal autonomy and decision making in relation to health behaviour is needed for successful uptake of health promotion advice. 


The paper makes four key recommendations:

  • Public involvement in the design of health improvement strategies can be aided by displaying sensitivity to people’s desire for recognition in the arenas of person autonomy, personal agency or decision making. 
  • Opportunities should be sought to ‘narrowcast’ or tailor information to individuals and networks rather than using a whole population approach. 
  • Work with young people should look to optimising wellbeing in the peer group alongside cancer risk reduction. 
  • Discussion and advocacy on concerns about the extent of cultural influences on daily health related decisions could facilitate a wider discussion about cancer risk reduction and individual change between health providers/promoters and those living in deprived communities.