Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial justice movement, the nation’s health care system is in a period of reckoning regarding its role in perpetuating racial health inequities. Cancer-related health disparities demonstrate the complicated impact of racism exacerbated by policy, health care systems, and environmental factors for communities of color. Institutional racism and associated impacts, such as social segregation and intergenerational trauma are fundamental causes of these health disparities. Other causes include mistrust of medical providers by communities of color, implicit and explicit biases by providers and health care systems, and racist health care system policies. Yet, there is a lack of understanding about what strategies health care systems can use to effectively mitigate cancer-related health disparities and confront the institutional racism that drives these inequities.

Co-Creating Solutions to Address Racism and Disparities in Oncology, an 18-month initiative coordinated by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and supported by Genentech, pursued opportunities to address cancer-related health inequities. The project worked with three community and health care partnerships to:

  • Identify strategies to enhance health care system and community partnerships focused on identifying, co-developing, and testing solutions that address racial and ethnic disparities in oncology care and outcomes; and
  • Highlight mechanisms for health care systems to address institutional bias and racism inherent in cancer care for communities of color and establish measures to track progress.

The three competitively selected community and health system stakeholder groups that participated in the initiative included:

Community PartnerHealth Care PartnerLocation
The Chrysalis InitiativeMD Anderson Cancer Center, Cooper HealthPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey
Cierra Sisters
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattle, Washington
Jefferson County Faith Based Alliance for the Advancement of Health EquityO’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham, Alabama

These sites received tailored one-on-one technical assistance and participated in group learning opportunities that supported peer-to-peer exchange, discussions of challenges, and exchange of best practices. Throughout the initiative, CHCS also distilled lessons from the participating sites and publicly shared emerging best practices for health care systems and communities of color to co-create solutions to address health disparities.