Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Trends in Oncology Diversity

The May 2022 #RadOnc #JC focuses on diversity trends by sex and underrepresented in medicine groups among oncology faculty over time.   

The discussion will begin Saturday, May 21st at 8 AM CST and go through Sunday, May 22nd, culminating in the live hour utilizing Twitter Spaces from 12-1 pm CST, Sunday May 22nd.

Creating and maintaining a diverse health care workforce can help combat societal inequities and health disparities, particularly considering the evolving demographic characteristics of the general US population. Such a diverse health care workforce may lead to improved patient satisfaction, compliance, and outcomes.1,2

Historically, women and certain racial and ethnic minority groups were excluded from and/or had limited pathways into medicine and, consequently, oncology training.3 Calls to increase health care workforce diversity date back several decades 3-6 and resulted in the creation of some opportunities to increase the representation of women and racial and ethnic minority groups in medicine.  

It is unclear whether the steps to address disparities in representation by sex, race, and ethnicity in the medical field have increased diversity within academic radiation oncology and medical oncology departments.

This month’s #RadOnc #JC will discuss a study that reports trends in faculty diversity, both overall and by academic rank, among US radiation oncology and medical oncology departments during the past five decades.

Kamran SC, Niemierko A, Deville C, Vapiwala N. Diversity Trends by Sex and Underrepresented in Medicine Status Among US Radiation and Medical Oncology Faculty Over 5 Decades. JAMA Oncol. 2022;8(2):221–229. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.6011

We are thrilled to be joined by Dr. Sophia Kamran (@sophia_kamran) for this month’s #RadOnc #JC.

We are grateful to @JAMAOnc for making the paper temporarily open access.

Our guiding topics this month are as follows:

T1. Background: What is the significance of having diversity in oncology faculty? How can it help to improve care and health equity?  

T2. Methods: How were these data collected and analyzed?

T3. Results/Discussion: What were the important findings of these analyses? Why is having a diverse health care workforce important? What were the limitations of this study?

T4. #PatientsIncluded: Why is having physicians with concordant race and ethnicity meaningful for patients? Can this result in improved outcomes?

T5. Next steps: Despite marginal improvements, what more can be done to recruit and retain a diverse workforce?

References:

1. Winkfield KM, Flowers CR, Mitchell EP. Making the case for improving oncology workforce

diversity. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2017;37: 18-22. doi:10.1200/EDBK_100010

2. Iglehart JK. Diversity dynamics—challenges to a representative U.S. medicalworkforce. N Engl J Med. 2014;371(16):1471-1474. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1408647

3. Nickens HW, Ready TP, Petersdorf RG. Project 3000 by 2000: racial and ethnic diversity in U.S.

medical schools. N Engl J Med. 1994;331(7):472-476. doi:10.1056/NEJM199408183310712

4. Marrast LM, Zallman L,Woolhandler S, Bor DH, McCormick D. Minority physicians’ role in the care

of underserved patients: diversifying the physician workforce may be key in addressing health disparities. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(2):289-291. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12756

5. Reede JY. A recurring theme: the need for minority physicians. Health Aff (Millwood). 2003;22

(4):91-93. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.22.4.91

6. Goss E, Lopez AM, Brown CL,Wollins DS, Brawley OW, Raghavan D. American Society of Clinical Oncology policy statement: disparities in cancer care. J Clin Oncol. 2009;27

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