Washington on Efforts to Address Disparities in Cancer Care

Chasity Washington, MPH, CHES, discusses strategies for addressing disparities in cancer care.

Chasity Washington, MPH, CHES, director of Cancer Health Equity, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Care, James Cancer Hospital, discusses strategies for addressing disparities in cancer care.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer care adapted to protect patients from potential exposure to the virus, according to Washington. Much of what can be done to address disparities in care will be done outside the scope of clinical practice and will involve helping patients connect with available resources, such as how to use telehealth, Washington says. Partnering with patient navigators or social services could be another crucial step in ensuring patients have the resources they need.

Additionally, it is important to examine patient data from electronic health records for signs that indicate the need for assistance, whether it be related to financial status, food security, or housing, Washington adds. Assessing these barriers and helping patients to overcome them will be necessary moving forward, according to Washington. Additionally, encouraging patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine is important, as there are gaps in access to the vaccine for certain subgroups, Washington says.

Because of the decrease in cancer screenings caused by the pandemic, patients should be encouraged to get back on track with regular cancer screening, Washington says. Reminding patients of the protocols in place to keep them safe during screenings, as well as additional services to increase access to these screenings, could be beneficial, Washington concludes.