Cancer Care Barriers

Prostate cancer care among Latino men affected by a number of factors

(RxWiki News) Latino men don’t get the prostate cancer care they need for a variety of reasons, and it’s not just about the cost. A new study has summarized those barriers.

Some people are faced with certain obstacles that keep them from getting the health care they need. These individuals are said to be part of the “underserved” community.

Latino men fall into this category when it comes to prostate cancer care.

Researchers found that Latino men faced financial barriers to prostate cancer care. The men in the study also reported not trusting their doctors. And communication was a problem - both in terms of language skills and health care literacy.

"If you don’t have insurance, look for community clinics that offer care based on your ability to pay."

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Nursing teased out data relating to Latino men who were enrolled in the state-funded public assistance program called Improving Access, Counseling and Treatment for Californians With Prostate Cancer (IMPACT). 

"We found that an array of obstacles compromise access and frequently result in negative outcomes," said Sally L. Maliski, PhD, RN, associate dean of academic affairs at the UCLA School of Nursing and senior author of the study. "Sadly, these obstacles disproportionately affect underserved individuals and require a new focus on not only adequate healthcare coverage but also on the array of hurdles that limit patient access."

Transcripts of interviews with 60 Latino men were analyzed.

The biggest barrier, the researchers learned, was financial. Many men could not afford private insurance and did not understand how to use state insurance programs.

Lack of access to care meant that the men tended to be diagnosed with more advanced and harder to treat prostate cancer.

The care these men finally received was disjointed and often expensive. Patients had poor coordination of care, which often meant seeing different clinicians who did not offer continuity of care.

Diagnosis and treatment were delayed because of this run-around, which only fed into their distrust of doctors.  

The Latino men would undergo surgery for prostate cancer then have difficulty being treated for side effects.

Without a solid relationship with a primary care provider, it was nearly impossible for the men to advocate for themselves.

Finally, communication was a barrier. A general lack of awareness of prostate cancer among both the men and their providers caused patients to misunderstand recommendations.

Limited English language proficiency kept the men from being able to describe their symptoms and needs.

“The healthcare system needs a multifaceted approach, including alleviation of financial burdens for underserved prostate cancer patients, empowerment of patients with navigational skills, access to culturally competent providers, and consistent monitoring of access to quality health care,” the authors concluded.

The study was published in the March issue of the journal Qualitative Health Research. This research was funded by a grant from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation.

Review Date: 
March 5, 2013