Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, PRIDE ALLIANCE Fund Study to Address Healthcare Disparities in the LGBTQ+ Community

Study aims to educate oncologists on LGBTQ+ health needs

October 22, 2020

The LGBTQ+ community has long been medically underserved and misunderstood. It can be a challenge to find an LGBTQ-friendly doctor, particularly outside major cities, and research shows that more than half of the LGBTQ+ community has faced some sort of healthcare discrimination. That discrimination, experts say, can make an LGBTQ+ patient three times more likely to postpone care.

The disparities experienced by these patients, especially in cancer care, can lead to poorer outcomes and overall health. The Florida-based Moffitt Cancer Center made it a priority to address the issues facing LGBTQ+ patients through its research and educational program development. In 2018, Moffitt launched the first nationwide study designed to identify gaps in knowledge, attitudes and institutional practice for LGBTQ+ patients. This study informed the COLORS Training Program (Curriculum for Oncologists on LGBTQ+ populations to Optimize Relevance and Skills). 

COLORS is designed to help oncologists better understand the unique challenges and medical needs facing this patient population. It has been pilot-tested by a group of oncologists in Florida and now, thanks to funding from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation and BMS’ PRIDE Alliance People and Business Resource Group, it is being provided online to oncologists nationwide. 

“We are proud to support the COLORS Training Program, which aligns with our goals to address health disparities experienced by the LGBTQ+ community, and to help those patients achieve better outcomes,” said PRIDE Alliance Lead Paul Shay. “Together with the BMS Foundation, we believe this program will have significant impact for cancer patients in this community.” 

This effort aligns with BMS’ recent announcement by CEO Giovanni Caforio that the company will invest more than $300 million to address health equity and diversity and inclusion. Addressing health disparities is one of five major commitments. 

The study is scheduled to begin in October. After the trial is completed, the training will be made available to medical oncologists for continuing medical education and adapted for additional healthcare professionals, such as nurses and physician assistants.