In oncology—as in all types of medicine—providers treat patients from all backgrounds with personal histories unique to each one. Recognizing and understanding patients’ personal characteristics such as culture, language, religion, financial status, education, lifestyle, and identity can be as important as clinical factors in choosing and customizing effective treatment plans. Cancer treatment regimens that do not take these variables into account can inadvertently perpetuate established disparities in cancer care and outcomes.
To best meet the individual needs of the diverse patient populations they serve, multidisciplinary cancer care teams must appreciate their patients’ distinct characteristics and personalize their care if they want to achieve optimal health outcomes. This begins with having an awareness of disparities in healthcare delivery, treatment, and outcomes, and cultivating a willingness to seek and mitigate past and current injustices in clinical practice.
According to information about health disparities cited by the National Cancer Institute:
To combat the continuation of these and other patient disparities, community cancer centers need practical solutions, supportive resources, and training for their multidisciplinary cancer care teams. In response to that need, Personalizing Care for Patients of All Backgrounds: Insights for the Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Team proposes to arm community care teams with the tools they need to identify and address healthcare injustice and to personalize care plans based on individual patient preferences and factors.
An extensive effort, this initiative includes the creation of patient and provider surveys to provide insight into patient needs and provider knowledge and resources; a video series that demonstrates implicit bias in community practice and practical solutions for mitigating that bias; a dynamic online library of tools and resources care teams can use to guide treatment planning; and a checklist to support the personalization of care in the community setting.
For more information about this project, please contact Doreen Effange, DHSc, MPH, MBA, PMP®, Senior Program Manager.
Funding and support provided by Pfizer Oncology.