Shifting the focus: Addressing breast cancer disparities at the health care organization level

Marilyn Sonilal, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this study was to understand the scope of breast cancer disparities within the Texas Medical Center. The goal was to increase the awareness of breast cancer disparities at the health care organization level, and to foster the development of organizational interventions to reduce breast cancer disparities. The study seeks to answer the following questions: 1. Are hospitals in the Texas Medical Center implementing interventions to reduce breast cancer disparities? 2. What are their interventions for reducing the effects of non clinical factors on breast cancer treatment disparities? 3. What are their measures for monitoring, continuously improving, and evaluating the success of their interventions? This research project was designed as a mixed methods case study. Quantitative breast cancer data for the years 2000-2009 was obtained from the Texas Cancer Registry (TCR). Qualitative data collection and analysis was done by conducting a total of 20 semi-structured interviews of administrators, physicians and nurses at five hospitals (A, B, C, D and E) in the Texas Medical Center (TMC). For quantitative analysis, the study was limited to early stage breast cancer patients: local and regional. The dependent variable was receipt of standard treatment: Surgery (Yes/No), BCS vs Mastectomy, Chemotherapy (Yes/No) and Radiation after BCS (Yes/No). The main independent variable was race: non-Hispanic White (NHW) , non-Hispanic Black (NHB), and Hispanic. Other covariates included age at diagnosis, diagnosis date, percent poverty, grade, stage, and regional nodes. Multivariate logistic regression was used to test the adjusted association between receipt of standard care and race. Qualitative data was analyzed with the Atlas.ti7 software (ATLAS.ti GmbH, Berlin). Though there were significant differences by race for all dependent variables when the data was analyzed as a single group of all hospitals; at the level of the individual hospitals the results were not consistent by race/ethnicity across all dependent variables for hospitals A, B, and E. There were no racial differences in adjusted analysis for receipt of chemotherapy for the individual hospitals of interest in this study. For hospitals C and D, no racial disparities in treatment was observed in adjusted multivariable analysis. All organizations in this study were aware of the body of research which shows that there are disparities in breast cancer outcomes for patient population groups. However, qualitative data analysis found that there were differences in interest among hospitals in addressing breast cancer disparities in their patient population groups. Some organizations were actively implementing directed measures to reduce the breast cancer disparity gap in outcomes for patients, and others were not. Despite the differences in levels of interest, quantitative data analysis showed that organizations in the Texas Medical Center were making progress in reducing the burden of breast cancer disparities in the patient populations being served.

Subject Area

Health care management

Recommended Citation

Sonilal, Marilyn, "Shifting the focus: Addressing breast cancer disparities at the health care organization level" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3564210.