Duke Cancer Institute Launches Community Partnership Program


Duke Cancer Institute has developed a community health program focused on minimizing cancer disparities and improving overall health. Nadine J Barrett, PhD, MA, MS, director of the Office of Health Equity and Disparities at Duke Cancer Institute (Durham, NC) presented on the initiative at the Association for Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) National Oncology Conference (Nashville, TN; October 18-20, 2017).

“Part of the Office of Health Equity and Disparities is to really start thinking about what are some of the key needs in our community,” Dr Barrett said in a video supplied by ACCC. “African Americans, Latinos, and other disenfranchised groups tend to have worse outcomes compared to their white counterparts, or those who might be wealthier. So what we really wanted to focus on is how we ensure that people have the right information to act upon—the education component. The other part is outreach: How do we as an institution partner with community organizations to ensure that we are doing the appropriate outreach.”

Community partnerships have served as the basis for the creation of the program. Local organizations, faith initiatives, community liaisons, and representatives from state and local bodies comprise the program’s advisory council. Outcome measures, research, and partnerships have also been designed to refine and spread the program’s messages, and to help achieve the program’s goals.

The program’s advisors focused on three distinct areas: community engagement and outreach, bringing diversity to clinical trials and research, and educating practitioners on health disparities in research and practice.

Since its implementation, Dr Barrett conjectures that the program has reached more than 5000 community members, resulting in more than 1500 cancer screenings. The majority of screened patients were uninsured, and approximately 35% were undocumented. Twelve percent reported having no primary care provider.

Screenings resulted in the initiation of follow-up care for 52 community members.


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Further goals of the program, which was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute, include outreach to racial and ethnic minority groups; individuals living in underserved and rural communities; and individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

“When we think about the challenges that really prohibit people from getting access to care, it’s not just the issue of the system,” Dr Barrett said. “It’s also a challenge in terms of people having fear and concerns about navigating this complex health system. It’s really important to eliminate those fears and break some of those myths.”—Cameron Kelsall