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Investigating disparate cancer treatment experiences of Indy women

Investigating disparate cancer treatment experiences of Indy women

Photo of Yuehwern Yih
Dr. Yuehwern Yih
The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) awarded funding to an IE professor for a project focusing on the disparate mortality of black versus white breast cancer patients.

The CTSI awarded Yuehwern Yih, professor of industrial engineering and co-project lead, with Community Health Partnerships (CHeP) Trailblazer Award funding for her innovative project, "Tracking the Process of Treatment Seeking in Black Breast Cancer Patients". The study is motivated by the disparate mortality rate of black versus white breast cancer patients in the greater Indianapolis area. Yih will examine disparities in access and patient experiences from screening to treatment, create a care map, and identify barriers to care that impede the progress of black patients through the cancer treatment system.

"We seek to understand the process through which black versus white patients obtain screenings and diagnoses, seek and enter care for breast cancer, and move through the system for breast cancer treatment," said Yih. "We hope to discover barriers that could be changed or overcome by design that could reduce the differences in mortality due to better access in treatment processes for cancer care."

Yih will collaborate with a community partner for this study, the Reaching to End Disparities (R.E.D.) Alliance, to use its established relationships with women in the faith-based community and their breast health advocates, and to collaborate with its other partners to recruit survivors to participate in experience mapping. The R.E.D. Alliance was organized in 2014 in response to research finding that in Indianapolis black women were 42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, despite comparable rates of screening and a lower likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to this community partner, this interdisciplinary team also includes Dr. Poching DeLaurentis from the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering and Professor Cleveland Shields from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, both at Purdue University.

The Indiana CTSI CHeP awards Trailblazer funding for collaborative research projects with both a university partner and a community partner, to improve Indiana residents' health through community-university partnerships. The collaboration must focus on topics that affect health equity, and both partners must currently work in an Indiana-based institution or organization.