Kimlin Tam Ashing, Ph.D.
City of Hope, along with the National Urban league, Anthem and Pfizer, recently announced the launch of Take Action for Health
, a free interactive website aimed at reducing some of the greatest health risks facing the African-American community today: breast cancer, heart disease and emotional well-being.
The site is one way City of Hope is working to reduce health disparities in the African-American community, by encouraging health screenings, addressing barriers and providing information on access to low- and no-cost health care services in the community.
The site guides participants through four modules where they can learn about risk factors, take action to get screened, track their progress and share their results with their physicians, health care teams or family and friends.
Recent examples of growing health disparities continue to shed light on the need to identify ways to encourage medical screenings. In fact, African-American women have the lowest breast cancer survival rate of all ethnic and racial groups, according to the American Cancer Society. One potential reason may be because African-American women are often diagnosed with more advanced or later stage breast cancer.
“Take Action for Health
aims to put in the hands of our African-American community clinically and culturally responsive disease preventive and health promoting tools,” said Kimlin Tam Ashing
, Ph.D., professor at City of Hope.
The website identifies three major targets of poor health outcomes for African-Americans. In response, Take Action for Health strives to increase mammograms, blood pressure screenings and screenings for depression and anxiety risk in an effort to catch these health conditions early when the health impact is less severe and the conditions are much more treatable and less costly.
“The findings of the Take Action for Health pilot showed that users increased talking with their family about cancer and other health risks, and increased their rate of breast cancer screening,” said Ashing. “In direct response to our positive findings, we’re also planning an app aimed at increasing prostate, colon and cervical cancer screenings. Discussions are underway to develop another tool targeted at high blood pressure risk-reduction, screening and management.”
A recent study by the National Urban League Policy Institute found that health disparities cost the U.S. economy $82.2 billion in 2009: $60 billion in health care spending and $22.2 billion in lost productivity. Left alone, costs associated with chronic health conditions facing certain ethnic groups are expected to soar to $363 billion in 2050 as the U.S. population grows increasingly diverse.