Educated Patient Webinar: An Overview of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Cancer


In this Educated Patient® webinar, CURE® spoke with experts from Allegheny Health Network about addressing disparities in diversity, equity and inclusion in cancer care.

While diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, has a long history in the cancer space, many are making strides to address the challenges still seen today.

In the Educated Patient® webinar, titled, “An Overview of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Cancer,” CURE® spoke with:

  • Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, senior vice p-resident; chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer; and clinical inclusion strategist at the Enterprise Equitable Health Institute at Highmark Health & Allegheny Health Network;
  • Veronica Villalobos, vice president for clinical DEI at the Enterprise Equitable Health Institute at Highmark Health & Allegheny Health Network; and
  • Robert James, vice president for Corporate DEI at the Enterprise Equitable Health Institute at Highmark Health & Allegheny Health Network.

First, the panel focused on what DEI means, offering an overview of what it looks like currently in the cancer space. In particular, Villalobos and Larkins-Pettigrew aimed to define and offer examples of what health care disparities, health equity and social determinants of health are. Further, Larkins-Pettigrew expanded on which groups of patients are most affected by DEI in today’s cancer space.

In the second portion of the webinar, the panelists aimed to discuss the areas of disparity that need to be addressed in cancer care. To start, James explained how location/region, race/ethnicity as well as language barriers, and insurance all play a role in accessing appropriate cancer care for patients, adding his own experience with a Spanish-speaking family member who faced difficulty in their own journey. In addition, the panelists reviewed disparities seen in screening and other testing, like genetic or biomarker testing, and how education may play a role in these limitations. To round out this portion of the webinar, they addressed disparities outside of medical oncology, like supportive care.

To conclude the webinar, the panel then focused on how institutions, like Allegheny Health Network, as well as advocacy groups are addressing issues related to DEI in cancer care. In particular, the panelists reviewed what they think is the biggest disparity that needs to be addressed today. Further, they offered support programs available for patients and their loved ones and gave an overview of how can new models of care systems can help negate the issues discussed throughout the webinar. Lastly, each panelist shared what they are most hopeful for in the future of addressing DEI in cancer care.

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