Renee Kurz, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCNP, discusses social determinants of health that can contribute to disparities in cancer care, highlighting examples seen throughout New Jersey that emphasize the need for further investigation into this landscape.
Renee Kurz, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCNP, director, Clinical Research Operations, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, discusses social determinants of health that can contribute to disparities in cancer care, highlighting examples seen throughout New Jersey that emphasize the need for further investigation into this landscape.
Several social determinants of health contribute to disparities in cancer care, with neighborhood and environmental factors being key influences, Kurz begins, noting that residents of certain environments often experience higher cancer rates. For example, in Manville, New Jersey, the population of individuals who were exposed to an asbestos plant had a significant incidence of mesothelioma, a rare cancer type, she explains.
Another critical determinant of health is social and community context, Kurz expands. Screening efforts may not effectively reach or benefit patients who live in areas with low health literacy, she says. An example is a community in north New Jersey, where residents sought health care advice at local pharmacies, prompting the appropriate channels to adjust their approaches to health literacy and acknowledge the role of nontraditional health care settings in clinical research, she emphasizes
Furthermore, barriers to quality health care are paramount drivers of clinical research disparities. Although patients have historically needed to travel to academic medical centers to receive cutting-edge care and new therapies, this isn't feasible for everyone, Kurz says. Expanding clinical research into the community and incorporating care that can be conducted in patients' homes ensures a broader, more diverse population can access clinical trials, she notes. Kurz highlights that disparities in health care access can stem from various factors, each requiring individual exploration for effective interventions.
For example, offering transportation vouchers to patients living an hour away from a study site is an essential intervention, she continues. However, the suitability of this intervention for patients such as a lower-income grandmother who plays a crucial role in caring for her grandkids must be considered, Kurz says. Certain interventions may not be effective in certain populations, and these differences highlight the need for tailored solutions to address unique circumstances, she concludes.