Biden-Harris Administration Launches Initiative to Improve Cancer Outcomes in Low-Income Areas
Alleviating the effects of persistent poverty on cancer outcomes requires building research capacity, fostering cancer prevention research, and promoting the implementation of community-based programs. To enhance the United States’ capacity to do so, the Biden-Harris administration awarded $50 million in June 2023 to create five new Centers for Cancer Control Research in Persistent Poverty Areas that will advance the Cancer Moonshot’s priorities.
Involve All Populations in the Nurse Well-Being Conversation
In the United States, one in five adults experiences mental illness every year. Racial and ethnic populations can face particularly unique and inequitable challenges with mental illness and caring for their mental health. To raise awareness about mental health barriers in historically underrepresented groups, July is designated as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
ONS Member Fights Health Inequities at State Level as Assistant Director of Illinois Department of Public Health
ONS member Janice Phillips, PhD, RN, CENP, FAAN, took the reins as the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDHP’s) latest assistant director in July 2023. Her new role positions Phillips, a longtime ONS advocate, to eliminate health disparities and inequities by establishing and strengthening collaboration between IDPH and community partners across the state.
Respect Patients’ Religious Hair Wraps or Coverings When Taking Accurate Height and Weight Measurements
Patients who follow various religious practices may wear head coverings that can affect their height or weight measurements. Accurate height and weight measurements are essential for weight-based medication dosing to prevent inadvertent over- or underdosing.
Mobile Cancer Clinic Provides Screening and Education for First Responders
First responders’ persistent exposures to toxic chemicals, abnormal sleep schedules, and constant stress may lead to a higher risk of developing cancer. In particular, firefighters have a 9% higher risk for a cancer diagnosis and a 14% higher risk of cancer mortality compared to the general population.
LGBTQ+ Patients With Cancer Need Education Tailored to Their Identity
More than two-thirds of patients who identify as LGBTQ+ lack at least one vital health education resource tailored to their identity, researchers reported in study findings presented at the 15th American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. Additionally, nearly three-quarters of those patients desire posttreatment plans that include LGBTQ+ specific information.
These Factors May Increase Cancer Screening Rates for Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals
Race, sex, education level, and healthcare coverage status all contribute to cancer screening disparities among sexual and gender minority populations, researchers reported in the March 2023 issue of the Oncology Nursing Forum.
Specialized Services Support and Improve Care for LGBTQI+ Patients With Cancer
As the founder of the LGBTQ+ Coordination of Care Consult Service and co-chair for the LGBTQI+ Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC) at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center in New York, NY, Kelly Haviland, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, an advanced practice provider manager of professional development, is combatting the systemic disparities that LGBTQI+ patients with cancer face in accessing care.
Transgender Patient Populations
Transgender individuals often experience poor health outcomes, particularly when it comes to cancer. Compared with cisgender individuals, transgender individuals may be diagnosed with cancer at later stages, be less likely to receive treatment, and have worse survival for many cancer types. The disparities extend to survivorship, where transgender people report significant unmet needs, including lack of coordination between gender-affirming care and cancer care, oncology clinician understanding of transgender patient care needs, and transgender-specific resources.
Health Disparities Take a Toll on the U.S. Economy, NIH-Funded Study Finds
Racial and ethnic health disparities cost the U.S. economy $451 billion in 2018, a 41% increase from the 2014 estimate of $320 billion, according to results from a study funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes of Health. The researchers also reported that the total burden of education-related health disparities for people with less than a college degree reached $978 billion in 2018.
Mental Health and Wellness in the Asian American/Pacific Islander Community
Rates of hate incidents against the Asian American/Pacific Islander community have tripled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it’s taking a toll on the population’s mental well-being. Researchers have linked pandemic-related discrimination to increased anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances among members of the AAPI community, yet they are much less likely to seek or accept mental health services than any other racial group.
NIH’s UNITE Takes Steps to Address and Eliminate Ethnic and Racial Disparities
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH's) UNITE, a think tank that identifies and addresses structural racism in NIH and the biomedical research enterprise, began taking steps in February 2021 to address disparities across NIH and the medical community. The think tank’s actions included revising the selection process for NIH director’s awards and establishing a new program to provide additional training opportunities to employees of color, according to UNITE’s first progress report.
Delivering Holistic Cancer Care Requires Oncology Providers to Weave Spirituality in Their Practice
Spiritual care is an essential component of cancer care. Representing an individual’s “sense of peace, purpose, and connection to others and beliefs about the meaning of life, spirituality is not synonymous with religion, which is “a set of beliefs and practices that center on questions about the meaning of life and may involve the worship of a supreme being.” Several healthcare organizations such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, and the Joint Commission recommend including spiritual care in cancer care guidelines.
Task Force Recommends Patient Navigation Services Increase Certain Cancer Screening to Advance Health Equity
Patient navigation services must increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening for disadvantaged racial and ethnic populations and people with lower incomes, the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommended. Patient navigation services, coupled with timely and appropriate follow-up care and treatment, could improve health equity for these groups, in some cases reducing cancer mortality and incidence, the task force added.
RNs Need More Education About Reasonable Accommodations for Patients With Intellectual Disabilities
Nearly 60% of RNs say they have limited awareness of the concept of reasonable accommodations for patients with intellectual disabilities, researchers reported in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. They said their findings indicate a dire need for increased nursing education and training.
Innovative Oncology Nurses Break Down Communication Barriers for Patients Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Many patients with cancer confront complex health disparities, but those with disabilities must muddle through more barriers than those without. As nurses, we have a responsibility to help our patients obtain the best possible care and support them during treatments such as a bone marrow transplantation.
Disability Disparities in Cancer Care
More than one billion individuals worldwide have some type of disability, and the population often faces higher rates of cancer, social determinants of health disadvantages, and greater health disparities. They are also more likely to have risk factors associated with a cancer diagnosis and require close care after a diagnosis that accommodates for their disability.
NIH’s All of Us Research Program Starts Returning Genetic Health-Related Results to Participants
To help historically underrepresented communities learn more about their health, the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program began returning personalized health-related DNA results to more than 155,000 participants, NIH reported in December 2022. The reports include information on whether participants have an increased risk for certain health conditions and how they might process certain medications.
Tip Sheet Helps Nurses Confront Systemic Racism by Providing Equitable Hair Care
Maintaining a patient’s personal grooming during an inpatient stay is an important aspect of holistic nursing care, but nurses and hospitals alike may fall short when it comes to textured hair care, nurses reported in the American Journal of Nursing.
Black Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer Are Less Informed About Their Clinical Trial Options
Healthcare providers are less likely to talk to Black patients with metastatic breast cancer about opportunities to enroll in clinical trials than they are with patients from other racial or ethnic backgrounds, researchers reported at the 2022 ASCO Annual Meeting.
Oncology Nurse Joins Panel to Discuss Solutions to Advance Equitable Cancer Care for the LGBTQ+ Community
ONS member Ryne Wilson, DNP, RN, OCN®, care coordinator at University of Minnesota Physicians, joined an expert panel to discuss policy solutions for advancing equitable cancer care for the LGBTQ+ community during the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Patient Advocacy Summit in December 2022. The panel focused on issues affecting LGBTQ+ people with cancer, including homophobia, transphobia, systemic racism, and social determinants of health.
Achieve Equity in Patient Communication With These Evidence-Based Approaches
Equalizing the quality of patient-provider communication for Black versus White patients is one way to reduce the systemic racial disparities prevalent in cancer care, researchers reported in study findings published in the November 2022 issue of the Oncology Nursing Forum. They identified critical opportunities for oncology nurses to improve interpersonal communication with Black patients. Nurses are key drivers to affecting change and cancer outcomes for all patients, they reported.
Hispanic Patients Are at Higher Risk for Aggressive Prostate Cancer but Less Likely to Get Treatment
Compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts, most Hispanic patients with localized prostate cancer are nearly 20% more likely to have aggressive disease, but the risk varies based on their country of origin, researchers reported in study findings published in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases. Additionally, they found that the population faces disparities in access to care, with only approximately 60% receiving appropriate treatment.
Rural Patients Who Miss Radiation Doses Are More Likely to Die From Cancer
Regardless of residence, nearly 25% of patients with cancer overall miss at least 10% of the doses in their radiation treatment plans—but the implications on outcomes are far greater for patients living in rural areas than their urban counterparts, according to new research findings published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.
Overcome Inequalities in Cancer Treatment Options Across the Ages
Larry is an 83-year-old rancher who was diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma and treated with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. A three-month follow-up scan reveals recurrent disease. Larry’s son tells you he wants to explore clinical trials but is frustrated that several promising trials do not accept patients older than 70 years. He asks you why a person’s chronologic age is a major exclusion factor and their performance status is only considered after they meet the age criteria. He also asks you whether his father’s age influenced the choice between first-line therapy with FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel.