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Health Equity 101 for Providers

Achieving health equity in prostate cancer requires a fundamental transformation of our existing healthcare system.

Dennis Stanley in a hospital bed

Foundations of health

Healthcare professionals and policymakers have increasingly started to acknowledge the effects of social and environmental circumstances have on health.

Investigations by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation indicate that genetics, individual choices, and health behaviors account for between 10 and 20 percent of the likelihood of positive health outcomes. However, educational, social, financial, environmental, and healthcare-related factors account for 80 to 90 percent. These external factors – known as the social determinants of health – are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems that impact our health and well-being, functioning, and quality of life.

Health equity 101

Core competencies for health equity: Addressing the social determinants of health

Prostate cancer, much like numerous other health conditions, serves as a stark reminder that our prevailing healthcare system includes substantial disparities. These differences manifest in aspects such as screening and diagnosis rates, available treatment options, accessibility to advanced therapies, and rates of survival. It is crucial to recognize that these disparities are not solely the result of individual choices or medical interventions; they are deeply intertwined with broader social systems.

The path toward rectifying these differences require a direct and unwavering confrontation of multifaceted challenges while simultaneously reshaping our healthcare system. Achieving equity in prostate cancer care calls for strategies that not only attend to medical interventions but also grapple with the larger social systems that perpetuate inequality.

Eradicating disparities in prostate cancer care mandates the dismantling of access barriers that disproportionately hinder historically underserved communities. This endeavor entails policy reform aimed at rectifying systemic injustices and increased community engagement that includes the voices of those most affected. By fostering a patient and community population that is not only better informed but also empowered to take charge of their health journey, we can begin to disrupt the cycle of disparity and disempowerment.

At the core of this transformative journey lies the cultivation of a healthcare workforce that is not just racially/ethnically diverse but also characterized by cultural humility. Healthcare providers need to be armed with the skills and insights necessary to navigate the distinct challenges faced by various patient demographic groups. Bridging the gap in prostate cancer disparities requires healthcare professionals to introspectively address and challenge their own biases and preconceptions about patients. This paves the way for the assurance that each patient, regardless of their background, receives dignified and respectful care, embodying the principles of equity that underscore this transformative initiative. By integrating an understanding of social drivers of health into the fabric of care provision, we can pave the way toward a more equitable future for the prostate cancer journey for all patients/families.

Advancing trustworthiness and building trust


Fundamentally, achieving health equity in prostate cancer demands a profound transformation of our healthcare system. This endeavor goes beyond minor adjustments; it necessitates a complete rethinking of how our healthcare ecosystem operates. As a result, there are ongoing efforts by various stakeholders within the health and medical community to enhance education, broaden access, foster partnerships, and offer support to those at risk of prostate cancer, individuals already diagnosed, their care partners, and families. However, the significance of these efforts is diminished if they are not coupled with actions that cultivate trust within these communities.

Furthermore, the establishment of trust is a critical component of progress. In many marginalized and underserved communities, a history of injustices, discriminatory practices, and a lack of representation has sown deep-rooted skepticism regarding the healthcare system. Acknowledging and addressing this skepticism is a prerequisite for meaningful advancement. Building trust requires healthcare providers and medical professionals to serve as trustworthy partners in the communities they aim to serve.

For healthcare providers, it's pivotal to embody trustworthiness in order to lay a solid foundation of trust. This entails a sustained and authentic commitment to principles such as accountability, integrity, consistency, benevolence, and justice. Once trust is established, it can be fortified through continuous actions, transparent communication, and sincere empathy.

By acknowledging the systemic nature of disparities, proactively addressing trust concerns, and positioning themselves as steadfast allies, healthcare providers and healthcare systems have the potential to bring about significant and meaningful change. In the quest for health equity, these actions are not only vital but also transformative, promising a future where access to care, treatment, and support for prostate cancer is just and equitable for all.

Advancing Community-Engaged Research Diagram