The systematic cultural adaptation of a UK public health cancer awareness raising programme for Malaysia: The Be Cancer Alert Campaign

Desiree Schliemann, Tin Tin Su, Darishiani Paramasivam, Saunthari Somasundaram, Nor Saleha Binti Ibrahim Tamin, Maznah Dahlui, Siew Yim Loh, Michael Donnelly

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Increasingly, policy and research attention is being directed toward
improving global health in low- and middle-income countries.

Purpose: This study investigated the cultural adaptation of a UK designed and
developed evidence-based mass media campaign with the aim of improving colorectal cancer and breast cancer awareness in Malaysia.

Methods: Guided by the heuristic framework of cultural adaptation, a multi-disciplinary team adapted the UK Be Cancer Aware programme for implementation in the Malaysian context. The approach included five steps: I) information gathering and needs assessment; II) preliminary design; III) preliminary testing; IV) refinement; and V) final trial.

Results: Key findings from the information gathering stage related to the need to take into account differences in ethnicity, religion and beliefs about cancer. Discussions with experts indicated that particular words were not acceptable in Malay culture and that specific aspects were ‘taboo’ (e.g. showing pictures of breasts in relation to breast cancer on TV). Stage three of the analysis revealed that the presentation of cancer survivors rather than health professionals on programme materials was preferred by Malaysians and that there was a poor level of awareness about colorectal cancer. The results were used systematically to adapt two culturally suitable cancer awareness mass media campaigns for implementation in Malaysia. The developed materials were in line with government priorities and took into account the local health care system

Conclusion: The establishment of a partnership with key stakeholders (e.g. the Ministry of Health and the lead patient advocacy organisation) and the application of a systematic approach to address cultural factors and resource constraints contribute to the successful implementation of public health programmes in global health settings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Early online date04 Oct 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 04 Oct 2019


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