Dr Taplin on Addressing Disparities in Prostate Cancer Care Through Community Engagement

March 16, 2024 | by magnews24.com

Mary-Ellen Taplin, MD, chair, Executive Committee for Clinical Research, physician, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, discusses efforts to address disparities in access to, and delivery of, prostate cancer care.

Addressing health care inequities in prostate cancer continues to be a substantial challenge, and requires a multifaceted approach, Taplin begins. This includes a focus on community engagement and innovative care delivery models. In Boston, efforts led by Taplin’s colleagues Quoc-Dien Trinh, MD, and Adam Feldman MD, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital, have aimed to mitigate these disparities through the establishment of a specialized clinic for men at risk of prostate cancer.

Central to the success of this clinic is the recognition of community engagement as a pivotal component, Taplin states. Community health care workers are trained and integrated into the clinic to facilitate patient outreach and support, she says. When individuals are referred for prostate cancer screening or present with elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, they are initially connected with a community health worker, Taplin explains. These workers assist patients in navigating insurance coverage and facilitate scheduling appointments at Massachusetts General Hospitals or appropriate referrals if necessary.

Over the course of a year, the clinic has demonstrated a significant impact, with over 220 patients served and nearly 100 new referrals, Taplin reports. Notably, over half of patients successfully scheduled visits, indicating improved access to care. Furthermore, approximately one-fourth of patients with elevated PSA levels were diagnosed with prostate cancer, highlighting the clinic’s effectiveness in early detection and management, Taplin adds.

By addressing both access barriers and disparities in care delivery, initiatives like this clinic play a crucial role in advancing health equity in prostate cancer, Taplin emphasizes. Through community engagement and tailored support, they aim to ensure that all individuals, regardless of socioeconomic status or other factors, have access to timely and appropriate prostate cancer screening and care. Continued efforts in this direction are essential for achieving equitable outcomes in prostate cancer management, Taplin concludes.

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