Using Photovoice to Engage Community Members About Colorectal Cancer Screening



Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Many racial and ethnic minority groups and those who are low-income or uninsured have lower rates of screening, later stages at diagnosis and poorer survival. Promoting CRC screening in underserved populations can help reduce these disparities. Community engagement methods are one way to address CRC disparities. PECaD’s Colorectal Cancer Community Partnership has been working to identify and address reasons for CRC disparities in our community. Community partners, in collaboration with academic researchers, identified a need to understand motivations among patients seeking CRC screening in order to promote awareness of early detection and to hear voices in our community.


In this project, we use community-based participatory research approaches to develop CRC screening promotional messages and conduct formative research that will guide future effort and intervention to eliminate CRC disparities. We use Photovoice methodology to learn more about what people think about colorectal cancer screening and early detection by collecting photographs and narratives about the impact of colorectal cancer on people’s lives. Our emphasis is on lower income and under- or uninsured individuals and the unique challenges of colorectal cancer in that context.

Photovoice is a participant-driven approach in which community members are provided with cameras so they can capture images relevant to CRC. Photographs are printed, and participants discuss the images’ meaning in the community context, culminating in a presentation of selected images and accompanying narratives back to the community. Photovoice is a powerful tool for obtaining community perspectives and engaging community members in health issues. At the end of this study, we will have community-selected images and narratives that we can build upon for future community-based studies and outreach to promote CRC screening.


The project team worked with PECaD’s Colorectal Cancer Community Partnership to get feedback on proposed study recruitment materials and processes. The team is currently recruiting study participants.


National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (R21 CA147794)

Project Staff

Aimee James, PhD, MPH, MA (Primary Investigator, Washington University)
Jean Hunleth, PhD, MPH (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Washington University)
Colorectal Cancer Community Partnership (Collaborators)

Contact Information

Aimee James, PhD, MPH, MA
Phone: 314-454-8300