Sylvester Researcher Nationally Recognized for LGBT Training for Oncologists

An abstract on The COLORS Training online program was presented in New Orleans on November 2 at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. It was selected as part of the meeting’s official press program.

Julia Seay, Ph.D.

Julia Seay, Ph.D., research assistant professor at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is the lead author of the study on the feasibility and acceptability of this training program, which is a multi-institutional collaboration between investigators at Sylvester, Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, and the University of Florida Health Cancer Center in Gainesville.

“In general, LGBT cancer survivors report worse overall health than heterosexual and cisgender survivors,” Dr. Seay said. “Sexual minority cancer survivors also report they are less satisfied than heterosexual survivors with their cancer treatment and care. This suggests that systems of care may not be designed to address the needs of these communities. As part of a broader effort to address disparities and improve cancer care and survivorship among LGBT people, we are working to improve LGBT cultural competency among oncologists.”

The training program consists of four, 30-minute online modules. Topics range from gender identity terminology to hormone therapy considerations for transgender patients and fertility discussions with LGBT cancer patients.

“This work is critically important in addressing documented disparities in cancer outcomes within the LGBT community,” said Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., MPH, senior associate dean for health disparities at Sylvester. “By educating oncologists about the unique challenges LGBT individuals face in accessing care throughout the cancer continuum — from prevention to survivorship — we are developing new competencies within the health care workforce that may meaningfully address such barriers and make progress toward health equity.”

To date, 20 oncologists from the three cancer centers have received the training and provided feedback. Among the participating oncologists, 75 percent were heterosexual and cisgender.

Oncologists’ LGBT-related knowledge increased after completion of the training. The proportion of participants who correctly answered more than 90 percent of LGBT-related knowledge items was 33 percent before training and 85 percent afterward. Among participants, 70 percent also reported an increase in favorable perspectives toward LGBT people, and 80 percent reported increasing their endorsement of LGBT-serving clinical practices.

“The most important finding of this pilot study is that the training is both feasible and acceptable for oncologists,” Dr. Seay said. “The majority of participants found the content of the training to be informative and useful, and the delivery of the training to be highly acceptable.”

She and her colleagues hope to be able to examine the effectiveness of this training among oncologists across the country soon.

This study was supported by a grant from the Florida Academic Cancer Center Alliance.