Providers Can Improve Cancer Screenings in Disadvantaged Communities

The director at the Center for Cancer Health Equity, The University of Ohio Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses improving preventative screenings in underprivileged communities.

Providers can address health disparities even with the recent surge of the Delta variant of COVID-19, said Chastity M. Washington, MPH, CHES, director at the Center for Cancer Health Equity, The University of Ohio Comprehensive Cancer Center, James Cancer Hospital.

Washington presented on Cancer Health Equity in the COVID-19 Era at the 5th Annual School of Nursing Oncology. In an interview with Oncology Nursing News®, Washington discussed approaching cancer-related health disparities in disadvantaged communities throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we can try to do is get ahead of that. Encouraging people to get back in for screenings, encouraging HPV vaccination–which took a hit during the pandemic, as well. Those rates dropped incredibly during a several month period of time. We also are making efforts to, sort of, encourage people to get, not only the school vaccines that kids need, but the HPV vaccine, as well. Now that things are opening back up,[saying] ‘go back in and get your checkup, get your vaccines.’ [And] making a concerted effort in those communities. We do the generic campaigns, but then also doing specific campaigns in those communities and populations, and then going to the community when we can.”

“If I'm worried about being evicted, or I don't have food on the table, my health kind of falls down lower on that sort of hierarchy of needs. So, when you have someone that connects you to those other resources, and you kind of don't have to worry about those things as much, then you can kind of focus on your health needs. So, it's a lot of work. And a lot of it is outside of the scope of actually physically going to a clinician or your physical health. It's [about] those social determinants and making sure all those things are taken care of.”