Community support groups play major role in helping African-American women with breast cancer

Community support groups play major role in helping African-American women with breast cancer

Shelley White-Means, PhD, a professor of health economics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, is the principal investigator of a paper published this month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that found breast cancer support groups play a major role in helping underserved African-American women at risk for or diagnosed with breast cancer in Memphis. Using data from in-depth focus groups, Dr. White-Means, a faculty member in the Department of Interpersonal Education and the Institute for Health Outcomes and Policy at UTHSC, and her co-authors determined that these community based groups are essential in overcoming barriers to care that include fear, lack of transportation and or child care, cost of medication, inadequate insurance, and other issues. Co-authors on the paper are Jill Dapremont, EdD, RN, CNE, associate professor and director of the RN-BSN Program at the University of Memphis, Barbara D. Davis, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Management at the University of Memphis, and Tronlyn Thompson, a biology student at Howard University. The research was funded by the Tennessee Department of Health. "There are community based support agencies that are vital for the survival of African American women in Memphis with breast cancer," Dr. White-Means said. These groups help women overcome economic, social, and psychological barriers to diagnosis and treatment and act as connectors in underserved areas for women with breast cancer. The organizations include the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as navigator programs, and support groups that provide education, social, and psychological support to African American women. "The work that needs to be done is to have a greater interaction between providers and the health care system and the community based support groups," Dr. White-Means said. "Gaps in death rates from breast cancer exist between black and white women in Memphis," Dr. White-Means said. The national goal is to reduce breast cancer deaths to 20.7 per 100,000 females. "In Memphis, while white women are close to meeting the 2020 goal, black women are not." Related Stories



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