About This ProjectIn the United States, individuals who live in the urban inner city are at risk for poor outcomes when they are afflicted with cancer. Traditional approaches for early detection and prevention have not eradicated these disparities. Many believe an inherent distrust between inhabitants of the inner city and the healthcare system drives this inequity. In this project, we will investigate whether the development of a vibrant partnership and a trusting relationship between members of the inner city and health care providers can lead to early detection of head and neck cancer.
Ask the ScientistsJoin The Discussion
What is the context of this research?
In 2010 over 40,000 individuals in the United States were diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Members of the inner city are known to have a poor prognosis for this disease. African American patients are twice as likely to die of disease and those who are uninsured or who have Medicaid funding are three times as likely to die of disease.
Traditional broad based methods of screening and early detection of these cancers have been ineffective. These programs are typically University based in which annually members of the inner city would be offered limited screening. Barriers such as difficulty with transportation, child care, and access are inherent in this approach. An inherent mistrust by members of the inner city to the health care system compounded the challenges with this approach.
In 2010, we developed Healing Hands Across the Divide - a novel faith and community based organization who approached improving early detection of cancer through the development of a trusting relationship. Our platform involves church or community leaders inviting health care providers to perform cancer awareness and screening in church or community based events in the inner city.
Fear is decreased by making these cancer screenings health events. We provide healthy snacks and have neighborhood Jazz bands or singing groups to provide a back drop for the screenings. As guests, we are not only able to identify high risk patients, but were able to ask people to identify their health care barriers. High risk patients are directed to a cancer screening clinic for early detection and diagnosis. Our goals are not only to save lives, but also to develop the trust that will allow us to gain insight into barriers for care of members of the inner city.
To date, we have screened over 300 patients and have had two articles published demonstrating the value of this approach. Our goal is to screen an additional 700 patients over the next year.
What is the significance of this project?
As access to health care is expanded through the Affordable Care Act, there will be many challenges in terms of health care delivery to the underserved. Novel approaches will be needed to meet the needs of populations who were historically disenfranchised from the health care system. We believe that our novel approach will help us to prove cancer outcomes for those in greatest need.
What are the goals of the project?
Through this project we will continue the mission of Healing Hands Across the Divide - early detection of head and neck cancer in the inner city of New Orleans. We will not only continue to provide educational events and screenings, but will also continue to build the trust and communication between health care providers and members of the inner city.
Funds raised in this project will be used to provide the supplies that are necessary for our volunteers to continue the educational events and health care screenings for head and neck cancer in the inner city. Our typical event costs $250 and allows us to either screen 50 people for head and neck cancers or provide education for members who attend a church service or community meeting (typically 50 people) . Our budget of $5000 will allow us to continue these efforts for one year. We anticipate we will be able to reach another 1200 people through screening or educational events.
Meet the Team
Team BioDr. Paul Friedlander is a head and neck cancer surgeon who has been involved in inner city health care since 1987. His initial medical training was based in New Orleans. During that time he worked at Charity Hospital and completed a residency in Otolaryngology in New Orleans. His professional interest has focused on head and neck cancer care. He completed a fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His research interests initially focused on translational research in head and neck cancer, but has transitioned to a focus on health care delivery for the underserved. In 2010, he founded Healing Hands Across the Divide - a faith and community based partnership whose mission is the identification and eradication of head and neck cancer disparities in the underserved.
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