The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Invests Nearly $6.5 Million in Research Investigating the Causes of Inequitable Access to Blood Cancer Treatment and Care

PR Newswire
Wednesday, July 10, 2024 at 1:30pm UTC

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Invests Nearly $6.5 Million in Research Investigating the Causes of Inequitable Access to Blood Cancer Treatment and Care

PR Newswire

LLS's Equity in Access Research Program Awards Four New Grants to Researchers Studying the Relationship Between Health Insurance and Access to Care and Interventions to Increase Therapeutic Clinical Trial Enrollment and Diversity

RYE BROOK, N.Y., July 10, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Equity in Access Research Program has collectively awarded nearly $6.5 million to health services researchers working to uncover and ultimately address the social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that stand in the way of blood cancer patients and survivors accessing the high-quality treatment and care they need throughout their lives.

"No other organization is funding research specifically on equity in access for blood cancer patients and survivors."

LLS expanded Equity in Access in 2024 by releasing two Requests for Proposals, which sought proposals that would generate evidence to increase understanding of the impact of health insurance on access to care and that would implement and evaluate interventions designed to improve therapeutic clinical trial enrollment, particularly among underrepresented groups.

Findings from these studies will enable LLS to draw on a greater body of actionable evidence to inform its own and others' efforts to foster meaningful change in healthcare policy and develop programs that tangibly improve the lives of blood cancer patients and survivors.

"While cancer can impact anyone, the unfortunate reality is that equitable access to high-quality, affordable treatment and care is out of reach for many, and no other organization is funding research specifically on equity in access for blood cancer patients and survivors," said Eric Cooks, PhD, Senior Director, Equity in Access Research Program at LLS. "As a leading cancer nonprofit, LLS is committed to transforming lives through our holistic approach across research, patient support, and advocacy which includes advancing health equity and eliminating health disparities. This research is a first step toward helping all patients and survivors achieve meaningful access to the treatment and care they need when they need it."

LLS's Equity in Access Research Program 2024 Cohort
The program's third cohort has received nearly $6.5 million in combined funding and comprises the outstanding researchers below named in alphabetical order of principal investigator followed by co-investigators for each study:

  • Carma Bylund, PhD, and Stephanie Staras, PhD, MPH of the University of Florida, will focus on the implementation of community oncology strategies to promote clinical trial enrollment. The first intervention, Enhanced Connection, will focus on strengthening the relationship between community oncologists and trial principal investigators to ultimately reduce barriers to referral. The second intervention, Enhanced Communication, will include interactive online training designed to enhance community oncologist providers' knowledge and attitudes about trials and their ability to discuss clinical trials with their patients. This study aims to provide evidence for cancer centers to integrate these practices into their standard research operations and to support the continued training of community oncologists.  

  • Raymond Mailhot, MD, MPH, and Erin Mobley, PhD, MPH of the University of Florida, will leverage a longitudinal database of electronic health records (EHR), administrative claims, and tumor registry data to examine differences in the receipt and quality of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment and survivorship care by insurance type. This study will also characterize the decision-making experiences of patients from racial/ethnic minoritized groups by insurance type. Findings will inform the development of tailored, personalized approaches to Hodgkin lymphoma treatment and survivorship care and advocacy for expanding Medicaid coverage.   

  • Shazia Nakhoda, MD, Linda Fleisher, PhD, MPH, and Zachary Frosch, MD, MS, of Fox Chase Cancer Center, will carry out a multi-level intervention to address disparities in clinical trial enrollment among historically underrepresented groups (e.g., racial/ethnic minoritized groups, older adults). This study will implement a skill-based didactic course for providers to improve the quality of communication around structural racism, mistrust, implicit biases, and clinical trial counseling. This study will also administer a culturally competent, specialized clinical trials nurse navigation (CTNN) program that connects patients to educational resources around clinical trials and standardizes pre-screening for new patients before the initial clinic appointment. Findings will provide evidence of the effectiveness of a skill-based communication training that empowers providers to navigate discussions on clinical trials more openly and effectively and a dedicated CTNN program that implements early pre-screening for eligibility and validated patient education tools on trial accrual.

  • Anushree Vichare, PhD, MBBS, Clese Erikson, MPAff, and Qian "Eric" Luo, PhD of George Washington University, will use national-level Medicaid claims data over eight years (2016-2023) linked to healthcare utilization information to observe telehealth provision by hematology oncologists, with a focus on identifying whether there are differences in telehealth uptake among vulnerable populations such as racial/ethnic minoritized groups and those living in rural areas. The study will also examine how recent legislative changes in telehealth coverage and Medicaid payments impact telehealth access. By including patients covered by Medicaid, the findings will provide first-known estimates on patterns of telehealth utilization by these patients and inform strategies to improve telehealth access through policy reforms.

Findings from these studies may ultimately lead to better health outcomes by identifying steps healthcare systems, providers, insurers, and policymakers can take to increase equitable access to quality and affordable blood cancer treatment (including treatment in a clinical trial). LLS will strive to transform the findings and related recommendations into state and federal policy proposals that its Office of Public Policy will work to implement.

"LLS continues to build on the success of the program's first two groups of grant recipients," said Cooks. "We were able to nearly double the award total from last year, thanks to the generosity of our donors."

LLS proudly and gratefully acknowledges Royalty Pharma and AstraZeneca for their support of the Equity in Access Research Program and other initiatives focused on reducing healthcare disparities in blood cancer care and treatment.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has regions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

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