Recognition of Diverse Populations Can Lead Us to Health Equity | Rebecca Maff | TEDxGCSOM | Summary and Q&A

September 25, 2023
TEDx Talks
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Recognition of Diverse Populations Can Lead Us to Health Equity | Rebecca Maff | TEDxGCSOM

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In this presentation, Rebecca discusses the connection between cancer, diversity, and health equity. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing diverse populations within healthcare systems and working towards achieving health equity for all. She highlights the various factors that contribute to the development of cancer, such as socioeconomic status, genetics, environmental factors, and behavioral risks. Rebecca also presents data on cancer rankings in the United States, focusing on breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for Black and Hispanic women. She discusses the disparities in cancer diagnoses and outcomes among different racial and ethnic groups. Finally, she proposes strategies to improve access to screenings and address the barriers that prevent certain populations from getting screened.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is Health Equity?

Health Equity refers to a state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to achieve their highest level of health. It aims to eliminate preventable barriers and health disparities and value everyone equally in terms of accessing quality healthcare.

Q: How does diversity play a role in Health Equity and cancer?

Diversity plays a significant role in health equity and cancer outcomes. Each individual is genetically unique, which can make certain populations more susceptible to chronic diseases like cancer. Factors such as socioeconomic status, geographic location, occupational hazards, and lifestyle choices contribute to the development of cancer. Recognizing the diversity within healthcare systems helps in better diagnosing and understanding the needs of patients.

Q: What are some social determinants of Health that can contribute to cancer development?

Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. They include environmental factors, housing, social communities, access to healthcare, and economic status. These determinants can influence someone's risk of developing cancer. For example, living in an area with food deserts, limited access to healthcare, or high pollution levels can contribute to cancer development.

Q: What are the current cancer rankings in the United States?

The current data, up until 2019, shows that female breast cancer ranks the highest among new cancer cases in the United States, followed by prostate cancer and lung cancer. In terms of cancer-related deaths, lung and bronchus cancer rank first, followed by female breast cancer.

Q: How does cancer rates vary at the county level in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania has 67 counties, and the darker shaded blue areas on the map indicate clusters with higher rates of new cancer cases. Northeast Pennsylvania, where a significant portion of the population resides, stands out as an area with a higher rate of new cancer cases. Breast cancer tops the list at the state level, followed by lung, prostate, colorectal, and bladder cancers.

Q: Is there a disparity in cancer diagnoses and outcomes among different racial and ethnic groups?

Yes, there is a disparity in cancer diagnoses and outcomes among different racial and ethnic groups. Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaskan Native women tend to get diagnosed at a later stage compared to white women. Black women have a higher incidence of triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive type of cancer. Furthermore, black women are diagnosed at younger ages compared to women from other racial and ethnic groups.

Q: What can be done to improve cancer screenings for at-risk populations?

There are several approaches to enhancing cancer screenings for at-risk populations. At the primary care clinic level, healthcare providers should have informed conversations with patients about their risk factors and the importance of preventative screenings. Outreach coordinators can call patients and schedule screenings, ensuring easy access to healthcare facilities. Community outreach efforts, such as setting up booths at events and distributing informational pamphlets, can also increase awareness and encourage screenings. Additionally, empowering patients by providing relevant information about insurance coverage and the benefits of screenings can improve participation rates.

Q: How can the healthcare system support efforts to achieve Health Equity?

The healthcare system can support efforts to achieve health equity by focusing on multi-disciplinary collaboration and efficient clinical workflows. Primary care clinics can streamline the process by offering screenings during the same visit, reducing the number of touchpoints for patients. By targeting outreach efforts at the community and county levels, healthcare providers can reach at-risk populations more effectively. Open and honest conversations with patients, keeping them informed, and addressing cost barriers are also crucial in ensuring Health Equity.

Q: What are the potential benefits of advancements in breast cancer screening technology?

Advancements in breast cancer screening technology have led to a reduction in breast cancer-related mortality rates. This is a positive development. However, it is essential to remain vigilant and focus on at-risk populations, particularly those with higher rates of aggressive cancers like triple negative breast cancer.

Q: How can individuals contribute to diversity and Health Equity efforts?

Individuals can contribute to diversity and Health Equity efforts by recognizing the importance of cancer screenings for themselves and their communities. Recommending and encouraging others to get screened can potentially save lives. By actively participating in discussions, raising awareness, and supporting initiatives that promote equal access to quality healthcare, individuals can play a part in advancing diversity and Health Equity.


In order to achieve diversity and Health Equity in cancer screenings and outcomes, it is essential to recognize the distinct needs and risks among diverse populations. This includes addressing social determinants of health, reducing barriers to screenings, and providing informed conversations and support to at-risk individuals. By working together as healthcare providers, communities, and individuals, it is possible to improve access to preventative screenings and ultimately save lives.

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