Dr Karen Winkfield on Taking Action to Address Disparities in Cancer

There is a lot of evidence on the disparities in cancer care, but less on how to take those findings and turn them into actionable items to address the problem, said Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance.

There is a lot of evidence on the disparities in cancer care, but less on how to take those findings and turn them into actionable items to address the problem, said Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance.

Transcript

There is more research on disparities in health, and cancer specifically, but is the data and research actionable for providers, health systems, and policy makers?

So, there is a growing body of literature that actually speaks to what we're calling implementation science. How do you do things in a different way that actually can impact the health and the well-being of communities?

My colleagues and I were very honored to publish an article earlier in January of this year that provided an actionable framework for how to reduce cancer disparities. And it was a broad sweeping article that looked at the different components of cancer care. One of the things that we did was we talked to experts around the country about what they were doing. What are some of the things that they were doing that are actionable that we perhaps could share with the rest of the nation?

And so, we know that the cancer care continuum has several leaky areas where people fall through—whether it be from screening, prevention, treatment—and so we pulled that together in that article that really helps to outline an actionable framework.

Beyond that, there are some folks who are doing work that is, again, really driven towards what are the things that we can do versus just doing the descriptive work, which we know—we've been describing the problems in terms of cancer disparities for decades. It's time to do something. We do need more.

But there are some data that's out there around some actionable items. We just need to do more of that work.