Abstract: The Transdisciplinary Approach of the BCERP: Merging Diffusion of Innovations and Evaluation Processes

◆ Brandon Thomas, Michigan State University
◆ Madalyn Mulroy, Ankura Consulting
◆ Daniel Totzkay, West Virginia University
◆ Pingann Oung, Michigan State University
◆ Michele Boehm, University of Delaware
◆ Kami Silk, University of Delaware
◆ Sandi Smith, Michigan State

Formative research to inform communication efforts and summative evaluations to assess effects and effectiveness are fundamental to health communication research. However, evaluation approaches tend to be atheoretical, with sparse exemplars that strongly integrate theory into evaluation processes. Diffusion of Innovations (DOI), a theoretical framework that explains how people adopt new innovations, posits that individuals often look to opinion leaders for information and guidance on new information and products, including health recommendations. In this project, DOI is integrated into an evaluation of a continuing medical education (CME) program from a transdisciplinary team of researchers from the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP). The CME focuses on emerging science that links exposure to certain chemicals in the environment to breast cancer risk, particularly during certain periods in female’s lives called windows of susceptibility (WoS). And given that medical professionals are often seen as opinion leaders for health information, the CME was designed for pediatric health care providers to take for credit towards their annual accreditation requirements.
Formative research was conducted to assess perceptions and knowledge from caregivers and pediatric health care providers (PHCP) on environmental exposures and breast cancer risk, especially during the WoS of pre-puberty and puberty. This formative work helped to create the three-module CME. Each module of the CME revolved around a different focus area, including: 1) windows of susceptibility and breast cancer risk, 2) types of environmental exposures to toxic chemicals, and 3) communication training on how to communicate such findings with patients and caregivers.
Summative evaluation revolved around participants’ changes in knowledge, attitudes, communication intention and communication behaviors revolving around sharing the information in the training with patients and caregivers. Participants took a pre-test, immediate post-test, and three-week follow-up post test for evaluation. Results reveal that PHCP knowledge increased after the training and held over time, PHCP planned on incorporating information pertaining to breast cancer and environmental exposures during WoS into their well-child checks (WCC), and behavior measures at the three-week follow-up period show that PHCP actually incorporated information from the CME training into their WCCs.
This presentation will provide a model for incorporating theory throughout the development, implementation, and evaluation of the CME. It will emphasize the CME process from formative evaluation, to using results of the formative evaluation to inform the creation of the CME, and results of the summative evaluation of the PHCP and the CME. This presentation will also highlight the implications of using DOI to inform projects aimed at opinion leaders, particularly PHCPs. Finally, it will address the utility that DOI has in efforts to use opinion leaders as a source of information dissemination for public consumption, as well as the necessity of incorporating theory into evaluation processes to maximize effects and effectiveness.