Mastering the Megaphone: Preliminary Outcomes of Online Trainings for Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalitions Focused on Media Relations and Communication Campaigns


This poster was presented at the 2019 American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

Key Takeaway: Online communication courses can improve health care professionals' ability to work with media and establish communication campaigns.

Authors: Rhea Suarez, BS1, Allison Harvey, MPH, CHES®1, Aubrey Villalobos, MPH, MEd, DrPH(c)1, Mandi Pratt-Chapman, MA, PhD1

1The George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center

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What is the Communication Training for Comprehensive Cancer Control Professionals 101?

Comm101 helps health professionals media plan, create media-friendly materials and build relationships with journalists. Learning objectives include:

  • Defining health communication
  • Explaining the difference between social marketing and media advocacy
  • Strategic principles in public health communication

Learn more and sign up for the training by visiting the GW Cancer Center's Online Academy and using enrollment code COMM101 (case sensitive) or by clicking on the button below. You can also download the accompanying course guide here.


What is the Communication Training for Comprehensive Cancer Control Professionals 102?

Comm102 helps health professionals plan, implement, organize and evaluate communication campaigns. Learning objectives include:

  • Defining evidence-based health communication
  • Conducting a community assessment to define health need
  • Developing key messages
  • Implementing a campaign

Learn more and sign up for the training by visiting the GW Cancer Center's Online Academy and using enrollment code COMM102 (case sensitive) or by clicking on the button below.You can also download the accompanying course guide here



Health communication is an essential tool for promoting and improving health (National Cancer Institute, 2004). However, many health professionals charged with designing, implementing and evaluating communication campaigns lack the knowledge to effectively do so (Kreps, 2012). Based on a needs assessment of Comprehensive Cancer Control (CCC) programs, conducted by the GW Cancer Center, one key finding was the need for online trainings focused on communication. To address this need, the GW Cancer Center developed two trainings: Communication Training for CCC Professionals 101: Media Planning and Media Relations (Comm101) and Communication Training for CCC Professionals 102: Making Communication Campaigns Evidence-Based (Comm102). Both trainings were then evaluated to gauge their effectiveness.

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Both trainings were evaluated with self-report pre/post assessments using a 5-point Likert scale of agreement (strongly disagree to strongly agree). The assessments were administered through the online learning platform.

Statistical analyses were conducted using STATA®IC/14.2 with data from August 10, 2015 to December 31, 2018. Learning objective confidence ratings were averaged for each lesson at pre- and post-test for learners who completed Comm101 (n=248) or Comm102 (n=92). Paired samples t-tests assessed pre- and post-test differences in learner confidence.

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The majority of learners reported enhanced knowledge, new skills or strategies, and a plan to implement new skills.

Table 1. Comm101 and Comm102 average pre- and post-assessment means and change in learners' self-confidence rating
Lesson Average Pre-Test Mean (SD) Average Post-Test Mean (SD) Average Change in Rating from Pre/Post (SD) P Value (for Pre/Post Change)
Communication Training 101
1 3.44 (0.78) 4.21 (0.64) 0.76 (0.78) <0.0001
2 3.54 (0.82) 4.25 (0.57) 0.71 (0.77) <0.0001
3 3.45 (0.71) 4.15 (0.52) 0.70 (0.65) <0.0001
4 3.07 (0.87) 4.03 (0.55) 0.96 (0.81) <0.0001
Communication Training 102
Introduction 3.43 (0.74) 3.99 (0.57) 0.56 (0.65) <0.0001
1 3.64 (0.67) 4.11 (0.55) 0.47 (0.56) <0.0001
2 3.36 (0.80) 3.92 (0.55) 0.55 (0.70) <0.0001
3 3.55 (0.71) 4.01 (0.50) 0.47 (0.57) <0.0001
4 3.59 (0.77) 4.03 (0.54) 0.44 (0.64) <0.0001
5 3.42 (0.79) 3.95 (0.58) 0.52 (0.71) <0.0001
Overall Training 3.43 (0.81) 4.06 (0.54) 0.63 (0.80) <0.0001

Learner demographics were averaged across trainings. The majority of learners were female (87%), White (64.6%) and non-Hispanic or Latino (84.7%). The primary role of most learners was health educator (28.6%), followed by navigation (21.1%), and program development and implementation (19.5%).

Of the learners that completed Comm101, over a quarter also completed Comm102. 

On average, at post-test, for both trainings, the majority of learners agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements:

All gains were statistically significant (p<0.0001).

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Although there are limitations with the sample size, initial findings indicate both trainings are effective at improving health care professionals' confidence and knowledge to work with media, and develop, implement and evaluate communication campaigns.

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Funding Acknowledgment

The trainings were originally developed through a cooperative agreement (#5U38DP004972) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The trainings are currently supported through a cooperative agreement (#NU58DP006461-01) from CDC. Poster contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC. The GW Cancer Center would also like to thank CDC for their collaboration on this program.

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National Cancer Institute (2004). Making health communication programs work: A planner's guide. Retrieved from

Kreps (2012). Translating health communication research into practice: the importance of implementing and sustaining evidence-based health communication interventions. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 20(1):5-15.

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Publication Year: 
2019-01-01 00:00:00
Resource(s) on...: 
Health promotion
Program evaluation
Publishing Organization(s): 
GW Cancer Center
Publisher Location(s): 
District of Columbia (DC)