The current global pandemic has highlighted consequences of long-standing inequalities of health care in the United States. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Health Equity Committee (HEC) has released a policy statement that highlighted difficulties in providing equal health care to Americans with cancer and was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The committee subdivided current challenges into 4 areas: ensuring equitable access to care, ensuring equitable research, addressing structural barriers, and increasing awareness.

To address access to quality care, the committee acknowledged that reforms to cost needed to be prioritized. Payment models should be expanded to include alternative payment models and financial assistance programs.


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To ensure nonbiased research among cancer patients, the committee recommended promotion of community-based study designs which include more realistic study populations. To overcome ongoing recruitment barriers, stratified recruitment among key at-risk groups (eg, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, or residential location) was recommended with routine collection of all potential confounders to better improve the quality of public data.

For existing structural barriers, the committee highlighted the need for diversity among clinicians and researchers and for the establishment of partnerships between local legislatures and communities for the implementation of health-improving activities.

Awareness and education may be promoted by forming local partnerships. Appropriate literacy materials should be provided to patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers.

This updated statement from the ASCO HEC was intended to guide ASCO’s future strategies in addressing disparities of cancer care among Americans and acknowledged that much work remains to overcome the historical and existing social structures that are responsible for observed disparate cancer outcomes.

Disclosures: Multiple authors declared affiliations with industry. Please refer to the original article for a full list of disclosures.

Reference

Patel MI, Lopez AM, Blackstock W, et al. Cancer disparities and health equity: a policy statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. J Clin Oncol. Published online August 12, 2020. doi:10.1200/JCO.20.00642.