Training program improves oncologists’ LGBT-related knowledge, attitudes
Oncologists’ knowledge of LGBT-related issues improved significantly after participation in a new online cultural competency training program, according to preliminary results of a pilot study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.
“LGBT people experience substantial health disparities in various cancer survivorship and quality-of-life outcomes, including reporting more distress, more relationship difficulties, and less satisfaction with their cancer treatment and care than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts,” Julia Seay, PhD, research assistant professor at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Miami Health System, said in a press release. “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 COLORS training program — the acronym for which stands for Curriculum for Oncologists on LGBT populations to Optimize Relevance and Skills — is made up of four 30-minute modules.
Two modules cover general topics, such as sexual orientation and gender identity terminology. The other two are oncology-focused and include hormone therapy considerations for transgender patients undergoing cancer treatment and discussions of fertility with LGBT patients within the context of cancer care.
Seay and colleagues recruited 20 oncologists (age range, 38 to 71 years; 30% women; 60% white) from Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa Bay, and Florida Cancer Center in Gainesville to participate in the training and provide feedback.
A majority (75%) of oncologists were heterosexual and cisgender.
The oncologists’ LGBT-related knowledge increased significantly as a result of the training.
The percentage of participants who correctly answered more than 90% of items on an LGBT-related knowledge test increased from 33% prior to the training to 85% after.
LGBT-related attitudes also improved among oncologists who completed the training, with 70% saying they had more favorable perspectives toward LGBT individuals and 80% increasing their endorsement of LGBT-serving clinical practices.
Ninety percent of oncologists rated the training as “excellent” or “very good,” and 95% said they would recommend the program to others in their field.
Seay acknowledged the relatively small sample size of oncologists — all of whom were from Florida — as a study limitation.
Seay said she and her colleagues hope to conduct a larger study to evaluate the program’s effectiveness among oncologists nationwide.
“These descriptive data from our pilot study show that this training program is both feasible and acceptable for oncologists,” Seay said in the press release. “The preliminary analyses also showed positive pre-post changes in LGBT-related knowledge and clinical practices.” – John DeRosier
Seay J, et al. Abstract A063. Presented at: AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; Nov. 2-5, 2018; New Orleans.
Disclosure: A grant from Florida Academic Cancer Center supported this study. Seay reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.