When Tony Burns was diagnosed with cancer in April 2016, he thought he had been handed a death sentence. “But here I am, one year post-treatment, in remission, getting on with a new normal,” says the lifelong District resident.
Tony now uses his experience with cancer as a patient advocate, volunteering with the Institute for Patient-Centered Initiatives and Health Equity, which is part of the GW Cancer Center. The institute conducts research with underserved communities that have been historically discriminated against in clinical care settings, scientific research, and society at large.
The institute seeks to understand the experiences of those historically underserved in order to prioritize research questions that are responsive to addressing cancer patient needs. The institute then creates training materials, in-person courses and seminars, and other tools to help clinicians, public health professionals, and medical administrators improve communication with underserved patients, enhance patient engagement, reduce health care inequities, and improve patient outcomes.
“There is a clear and compelling need to eliminate bias in health care toward racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities here in our nation’s capital,” says Mandi Pratt-Chapman, associate center director for Patient-Centered Initiatives and Health. “Minorities make up the majority of our city’s residents, and often face more aggressive cancers, and sustain worse health outcomes.”