skip to main content

Partnering to improve communication skills, patient health outcomes

Date Visible: 
09/08/2023 - 10:15am

Media contact: Nicole Fawcett, 734-764-2220 |  Patients may contact Cancer AnswerLine™, 800-865-1125

Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians meet with Rogel's Community Outreach and Engagement Team
Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians meet with Rogel's Community Outreach and Engagement Team

Native American women in Michigan have lower rates of breast cancer, but are more likely to die from the disease. There are also higher rates of tobacco use, overweight and obesity – all risk factors for cancer – in the Native American community.

To address these cancer health disparities in the community, Rogel’s Community Outreach and Engagement team partnered with the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians to conduct two motivational interviewing training sessions for care providers from the Good Health Lodge and Crooked Tree Wellness Clinic in Petoskey. The training teaches staff how to communicate with their patients more effectively to lead to better health outcomes.

“Building a trusting relationship is key to successful health outcomes and can be used to address a broad range of health issues, including managing diabetes, cancer screening, nutrition and physical activity, and immunizations,” said Ken Resnicow, Ph.D., Rogel’s associate director for community outreach, engagement and health disparities, and the training facilitator.

While cancer risk factors can be altered with lifestyle interventions and behavior change, studies show that’s more likely to happen if a health care provider recommends it. That’s where motivational interviewing comes in: the training builds capacity for providers serving Native Americans to reduce lifestyle risk factors and increase screening rates, which can impact health outcomes in the long term.

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based intervention focused on collaborative, goal-oriented communication. It’s designed to strengthen a person’s motivation for and movement toward a specific goal by understanding their personal incentives for behavior change.

Participants in the full-day training reported that it was a useful skill and a valuable technique. Most participants said they would like additional training.

“It felt great to be at Little Traverse again, supporting their work in cancer prevention and control. They have such a great team and well-integrated services between their clinic and community health,” said Noel Pingatore, M.P.H., administrative director for Rogel’s COE, who has previously worked with the tribe on chronic disease prevention and control programs. 

Rogel is committed to forming a sustainable relationship and providing services to the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. Dana Greene, M.P.H., strategic outreach coordinator for Rogel COE, began working with their clinical director, Frank Animikwam, M.D., through various health initiatives and recruited him to Rogel’s Community Advisory Board.

“The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians have been gracious and welcoming partners of the Rogel Cancer Center. Their partnership has made us better educators and challenged us to think critically about how we engage with all communities,” Greene said.