Boston Globe Examines Efforts by Hospitals To Address Disparities in Care for Minorities
The Boston Globe on Monday examined the "growing effort by hospitals to help non-whites manage their illnesses."
Research has found that white patients are more likely to receive appropriate tests and treatment for a number of diseases -- such as breast cancer -- than black patients, Latino patients and patients with limited ability to speak English. According to the American Cancer Society, white women are more likely to develop breast cancer, but non-white women are more likely to die from the disease.
In 2001, Massachusetts General Hospital launched an Avon Breast Cancer "patient navigator" program to help ensure that non-white women receive mammograms and provide additional help when results are positive. The Avon Foundation awarded the program $2 million to operate until summer 2006.
As part of the program, workers visit non-white women at home to explain mammogram results, take them to appointments and listen to their concerns. Debra Crowley, a worker for the program, said, "You are anxious enough already when you find out something is wrong with your breasts. We just try to make the process smoother and remove any barriers."
Massachusetts General plans to launch a similar program that would seek to address disparities in care among non-white patients with diabetes (Thomas, Boston Globe, 8/22).