Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, is the executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, a strategic partnership between Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt College of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee. She is also Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and professor of radiation oncology, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
A good deal of evidence exists on disparities in cancer care, but there is less information on how to take those findings and turn them into actionable items, said Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance.
Although more data are now available on disparities, can providers, health systems, and policy makers act on the information?
WINKFIELD: There is a growing body of literature that 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 honored to publish an article in January of this year1 that provided an actionable framework for how to reduce cancer disparities. 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?
WINKFIELD: 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.
Winkﬁeld KM, Regnante JM, Miller-Sonet E, Gonzalez ET, Freund KM, Doykos PM. Development of an actionable framework to address cancer care disparities in medically underserved populations in the United States: expert roundtable recommendations. JCO Oncol Pract. 2021;17(3):e278-e293. doi:10.1200/ OP.20.00630