A five-year national study now underway in Greensboro and Pittsburgh attempts to determine if technology and other tools can make sure that African-American breast and lung cancer patients receive the same level of care as white Americans.
Earlier research has shown that although a higher percentage of white Americans are diagnosed with breast and lung cancer, a higher proportion of African-Americans actually die from these diseases.
The Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity (ACCURE) study is funded by the National Cancer Institute and is being led as a collaborative effort between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), The Partnership Project Inc., Cone Health and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).
“It is critical that we lead this study in an equitable, partnership manner, using the ‘Community-Based Participatory Research’ approach, in order for our findings to have relevancy to the communities we hope to positively impact the most,” explained Eugenia Eng, co-principal investigator and professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
ACCURE aims to optimize transparency and accountability to achieve racial equity in the completion of cancer treatment among patients with early stage breast and lung cancer. Patients are encouraged to be more proactive in analyzing power and authority within the health care system. Patients are also encouraged to work with a patient navigator, who has comprehensive training in cancer issues, health literacy and communication techniques.
Healthcare providers will be given ongoing data about patients’ treatment progress according to race to immediately flag any disparity. Also, a real-time electronic registry will be built to alert caregivers when a patient has dropped out of care so that contact can be established to resume care before it is too late.
In addition to decreasing racial disparities among cancer patients, ACCURE also has the potential to define technologies that, if widely applied, can help resolve disparities in cancer and other chronic illnesses along the lines that the American Association for Clinical Oncology envisioned (the Rapid Quality Reporting System) and create sustainable change within cancer care systems.
This study is a continuation of the exploratory research managed by the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative and conducted from 2006 to 2009. The earlier project sought to understand more about the reasons for disparities between African-American and white breast cancer patients.