ABSTRACT: A Community-based Collaborative Approach to Improve Breast Cancer Screening in Underserved African American Women
Although African American women in the United States have a lower incidence of breast cancer compared with white women, those younger than 40 years actually have a higher incidence rate; additionally, African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age compared with white women. Racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates are especially significant in Maryland, which ranks fifth in the nation for breast cancer mortality, and in Baltimore City, which has the second highest annual death rate for African American women in Maryland. To address this disparity in care, Med-IQ, an accredited provider of CME, collaborated with Sisters Network Baltimore Metropolitan, Affiliate Chapter of Sisters Network® Inc., the only national African American breast cancer survivorship organization, to sponsor their community-based educational outreach initiative. The collaborative mission was to engage at-risk African American women, their families, local organizations, healthcare professionals, and clinics, with the goals of increasing awareness, addressing fears that affect timely care and diagnosis, and encouraging women to obtain regular mammograms. Intervention strategies included (1) a “Survivor Stories” video, (2) patient outreach consisting of neighborhood walks and an educational luncheon, and (3) a community outreach utilizing direct mailings to local businesses, community groups, and healthcare professionals. Trusted and well-known community resources were presented as mediums to promote the initiative, yielding achievement of broader and more effective outcomes. As a result of this patient-friendly initiative, two (2) of the women who sought screening were diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment.