Dr Vivienne Hau on the Role of Physicians, Researchers to Address Needs of Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Adequate training will help physicians and researchers better address the needs of the communities they’re targeting, explained Vivienne Hau, MD, clinical assistant professor with the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.

Adequate training will help physicians and researchers better address the needs of the communities they’re targeting, explained Vivienne Hau, MD, clinical assistant professor with the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.

Transcript

What specifically can researchers/physicians do to better address the needs of racial and ethnic minorities in ophthalmological care?

I think a lot of it comes down to ensuring that we're having adequate training ourselves in order to address the needs of the communities that we're trying to target. So, having culturally responsive care, addressing our own implicit biases, and if we're not aware, then going through trainings that can help us bring out some of those implicit biases that we're not even aware of. And also ensuring that our staff, that our colleagues are also involved in some of these trainings as well, so that we're all coming from the same foundation, so, there's consistency and standardization across everyone’s part of the team, as well. And also, understanding the limitations of what we have, of what we know. I think oftentimes as physicians, we feel like we can do everything because we're smart enough to learn it, but the reality is, sometimes we need others involved in collaboration and understanding what we can learn from others to work together as a team. And by doing that, having a good diverse team, we can be doing so much better to address the needs of those in ophthalmological care.

I think the other thing is supporting programs that are trying to do some of this already. I mentioned earlier, there are many organizations within ophthalmology that are trying to do this, such as through the American Academy of Ophthalmology. I know the Vit-Buckle Society, the Retina Society, and also within our own American Society of Retina Specialists that we’re developing mentorship programs to ensure that we have greater representation of those in ophthalmology and in retina. So, then that way, our patient populations are being cared for in a much better way.

And then finally, I would have to say, in terms of research, I think we need to ensure that when we are coming out with these trial designs, that we are including everyone and doing a good job of trying to target all those who are underrepresented to the best of their abilities. And also reporting in a consistent and standardized manner. In 2017, there was recommendations in terms of how we should report some of these trials, and in our studies, we actually looked at this over time in the last 10 years in terms of how these studies are reporting race and ethnicity. And when you compare from back in 2012, only 6.25% of studies reported on ethnicity meaning that therefore, a broad category such as Hispanics, or those from Spanish-speaking countries, was not even reported at all at that time in a majority of trials. At least with the advent of a policy such as in 2017, which encourages more of this reporting, we're seeing a greater reporting and outcomes. So, that is something that's positive. But still, overall, as a group, we need to do a much better job of this because we see there's still a lot of inconsistencies, despite the recommendations that have come out.