Examining intersectionality to find disparities in cancer care

© Oksana Ryzhinskaya

Analysis of 28 studies found that the intersection of sexual minority status with race/ethnicity is associated with lower cancer screenings

Intersectionality in health care is the idea that to understand trends in health, you must recognize that health is shaped by multiple factors. Factors such as race, class, income, education, age, ability, sexual orientation, immigration status, ethnicity, and geography all come into consideration when review of health care trends as fully as possible.

Social categorisations and personal identities are interconnected – and without taking them into account, you cannot fully understand which demographics are discriminated against in healthcare.

The experience of a queer black woman living in a rural area is not the sum of being queer, black and in a rural area, as these identities are not mutually exclusive. Every person’s situation is different and without intersectional health care, minority groups are left behind.

Finding disparities in cancer care

Published in Psycho-Oncology, a new study examines published research on intersectionality in relation to disparities in cancer care. Reviewing 28 studies, the team found that the intersection of sexual minority status with race/ethnicity was associated with lower diagnostic screening, less receipt of preventive services, and increased mistrust of sexuality. regard to the health system.

The analysis revealed the various ways in which patients with intersectional identities may be at higher risk for negative cancer outcomes.

“The results of this study serve to highlight how care providers need to move from the traditional one-dimensional understanding of patients to a more holistic perspective using an ‘intersectional’ lens that accommodates a more multi-dimensional, complex understanding and nuance of patients and how they self-identify,” said lead author Dr. Timothy M. Pawlik of Ohio State University.

“Greater openness and understanding of patient identity – and the intersection of diverse identities – is needed to effectively address inequities in cancer care and scholarship.”

Minorities are hardest hit

The analysis showed that sexual minority women, particularly people of color, were less likely to engage in cancer prevention behaviors prior to diagnosis. Race and socioeconomic status (SES) were important facts in patient care/survival with poorer outcomes in low-SES nonwhite women.

“Patients with intersectional identities often encounter barriers to cancer care that negatively impact screening, diagnosis, treatment as well as survival,” according to the study results.

“Using an intersectional lens as a future clinical and research setting will facilitate a more multifaceted and holistic approach to cancer patient care”

For more information, find the full study here

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