Minorities are often in jeopardy of missing opportunities for cancer prevention, early diagnosis, and state-of-the-art treatment. The following IECD committees advance DF/HCC’s efforts to reduce disparities in the delivery of cancer care.
Community Engagement Committee
Committed to the principle of partnership with our diverse communities, the Community Engagement Committee (CEC) encourages dialogue and collaborative activities to reduce the unequal burden of cancer. In addition to institutional representatives, the CEC also includes representatives from the National Black Leadership in Cancer, community health centers, American Cancer Society, and the Boston Black Women’s Health Initiative. Together with these partners, the CEC sponsors outreach education and screening programs, encourages community-based participatory research programs, and serves as an internal resource to DF/HCC staff interested in developing relationships with community partners. Among our approaches:
- Clinical Trials Education
In an effort to raise awareness and improve knowledge about and attitude towards cancer research and clinical trials participation, the CEC will work closely with community partners and groups to create educational opportunities. For groups not yet heavily affected by cancer, we provide information that will improve decision-making when the need for cancer treatment arises.
In addition, we seek to strengthen communication skills of our clinical research staff in clinical trials recruitment, improving accrual practices by providing culturally relevant education and training.
- Education and Advocacy Initiatives
To inform communities about DF/HCC resources, we are spearheading activities to educate residents about cancer disparities and available resources. To commemorate National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, the CEC hosts a number of community events including a popular Grand Rounds health series at community health centers. We also have an active partnership with the faith-based community and have jointly developed and sponsored educational programming focused on treatment, screening, prevention, survivorship, and end of life. In addition, funding an Administrative Supplements to Expand NCI-supported Community Outreach Capacity through Community Health Educators (CHEs) of the National Outreach Network (C. Lathan, principal investigator) allows us to work with communities to set the research agenda specifically in the area of biobanking education.
- Innovative Programs to Reduce Barriers to Care
Patient Navigation programs are a novel approach to enhance access to care. The DF/HCC hospitals have embraced this model to help community residents find their way through the complex world of cancer care, from outpatient screening to inpatient treatment. The Patient Navigator Network provides an opportunity for Boston’s 13 navigators to share resources and best practices while supporting one another. The navigators also have been instrumental in working with Massachusetts House and Senate leaders to pass new Patient Navigation legislation.