Racial Disparities in Clinically Significant Prostate Cancer Treatment: The Potential Health Information Technology Offers.

Bickell NA, Lin JJ, Abramson SR, Hoke GP, Oh W, Hall SJ, Stock R, Fei K, McAlearney AS
J Oncol Pract 14 e23-e33 01/01/2018


PURPOSE: Black men are more likely to die as a result of prostate cancer than white men, despite effective treatments that improve survival for clinically significant prostate cancer. We undertook this study to identify gaps in prostate cancer care quality, racial disparities in care, and underlying reasons for poorer quality care.

METHODS: We identified all black men and random age-matched white men with Gleason scores ≥ 7 diagnosed between 2006 and 2013 at two urban hospitals to determine rates of treatment underuse. Underuse was defined as not receiving primary surgery, cryotherapy, or radiotherapy. We then interviewed treating physicians about the reasons for underuse.

RESULTS: Of 359 black and 282 white men, only 25 (4%) experienced treatment underuse, and 23 (92%) of these were black. Most (78%) cases of underuse were due to system failures, where treatment was recommended but not received; 38% of these men continued receiving care at the hospitals. All men with treatment underuse due to system failures were black.

CONCLUSION: Treatment rates of prostate cancer are high. Yet, racial disparities in rates and causes of underuse remain. Only black men experienced system failures, a type of underuse amenable to health information technology-based solutions. Institutions are missing opportunities to use their health information technology capabilities to reduce disparities in cancer care.

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