Photo by Dean Forbes
The Health Disparities Research Center, established at the Hutchinson Center in January 2011 to unite, define and prioritize research on cancer in underrepresented populations, has just launched a resource-filled website on CenterNet.
Led by Public Health Sciences Division's Dr. Beti Thompson, the HDRC is funded by the Hutchinson Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium and is part of a Center initiative to combat health-related disparities in underserved populations in Washington state and nationwide.
Many people within certain populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, people of low socioeconomic status, and lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, bear an unequal burden of cancer. This burden spans a spectrum from lack of access to cancer prevention and early detection, to poor outcomes and higher mortality rates from various types of cancer, to worse end-of-life care.
Information available on new website
In August, HDRC program coordinator Heidi Harbach sent out a Centerwide survey to better understand how faculty and staff at the Center would use a health disparities related website. The survey drew 247 responses and much of this information drove the development of the site, Harbach said.
Many survey responders requested a general resource center on underserved populations and cancer, and some also requested a calendar of disparities-related events. Both of these are available on the website.
Soon, the site will also include descriptions of health disparities research conducted at the Center. Harbach and Thompson are planning to establish an internal advisory group to help guide the HDRC's further development.
Examples of research involving underserved populations under way at the Center include:
- Cancer prevention and education in Hispanic communities in Yakima Valley
- Studying psychological and social contributions to cancer in Latino populations
- Understanding and preventing breast cancer disparities in Hispanic women
- Studying cancer treatment and outcomes in American Indians
The HDRC's goals include:
- To link health disparities-related research and care at the Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
- To create a centralized bank of knowledge on health disparities in cancer
- Ultimately, to help increase enrollment of underrepresented populations in clinical trials conducted at the Center and SCCA.
"The unjust and unequal burden of cancer is evident among underrepresented populations," Thompson said. "It is our hope that the Health Disparities Research Center will bring researchers and clinicians together to address the underlying causes and contributing factors of health disparities."