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Case study shares example of reducing health care disparities through anti-racism organizing

July 13, 2022

“Imagine a world where racial disparities in health care could be virtually eliminated. In fact, there’s no need to imagine — it’s already happened at a health care center in Greensboro, North Carolina, for black and white patients with breast and breast cancer. lung.

“Think about it: A critical pathway to closing the racial gap in health outcomes in the United States may already exist. Whatever it took to close the gap and improve treatment completion rates for all has been the tireless work of the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative (GHDC), a group of community leaders and advocates, public health researchers and medical professionals.Before the work of the GHDC, white patients were completing treatment against cancer at a significantly higher rate than black patients, with a gap of 7 percentage points To be clear, when it comes to cancer, not completing treatment is fatal. little known of how this coalition of volunteers, guided by anti-racist principles, community-driven solutions and genuine partnership – plus an unwavering focus on structural racism at the root of inequity – has solved too.

The Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative (GHDC) is proud to announce the release of an in-depth case study (PDF), which begins with the words above and tells how and why the GHDC was successful in addressing racial disparities in the cancer treatment completion.

The Collaborative is a 19-year-old academic-community medical partnership that uses anti-racism, principles of community organizing, and community-based participatory research to guide successful efforts to implement systemic change. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cone Health, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have been staunch partners in conducting rigorous research with the GHDC over the years. The case study is the result of a collaboration between The Bridgespan Group, the Groundwater Institute and the Racial Equity Institute.

(LR): Drs. Geni Eng, Alex Lightfoot, Cleo Ryals, Kristin Black, and Stephanie Baker represent UNC Gillings School on the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative.

Collaborative members associated with the Gillings School of Global Public Health include Geni Eng, DrPH, Professor of Health Behaviour; Alexandra Lightfoot, EdD, associate professor of health behavior; Cleo Samuel-Ryals, PhD, adjunct associate professor of health policy and management; Stephanie Baker, PhD, adjunct assistant professor of health behavior; Samuel Cykert, MD, adjunct professor of health policy and management; and alumnus Kristin Black, PhD, current president of the School’s Alumni Association.

The case study tells the story of the founding of the GHDC and how the group went on to conduct the National Cancer Institute-funded ACCURE (Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity) study, which eliminated racial inequalities in breast and lung cancer treatment outcomes. The results of the ACCURE study have been published in the Journal of the National Medical Association. Further information on ACCURE interventions is described in a chapter of the book “Racism: Science & Tools for the Public Health Professional” and on the GHDC website.

The voices of several GHDC members, including co-chairs Terence “TC” Muhammad and Kari Thatcher and founding members Eng and Jennifer Schaal, are featured in an educational case study module titled “Seeking Health Equity: Examining Racism as a Social Determinant of Health”. ”


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health is #1 public school of public health in the United States. Its mission is to improve public health, promote individual well-being, and eliminate health inequities in North Carolina and around the world. With a focus on the science of implementation and delivery, UNC Gillings faculty, staff, and students bridge the gap between academic research and practical public health that can make a difference – and a different and healthier world. The ACCURE grant project featured in the case study was funded by the National Cancer Institute through the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, part of the Research Center Network on prevention from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cone Health in Greensboro, North Carolina, is a nonprofit healthcare network serving residents of Alamance, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham and surrounding counties. Their brand promise – We Are Right Here With You – is shared by more than 13,000 employees, 1,800 physician partners and 1,000 volunteers. As one of the largest and most comprehensive health networks in the region, Cone Health has more than 100 sites, including five hospitals, six ambulatory care centers, three ambulatory surgery centers, six nursing emergency, two retirement communities and more than 120 medical practices.

UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective and responsible care. UPMC’s mission is to: (1) serve their communities by providing exceptional patient care; and (2) shaping the healthcare system of tomorrow through clinical and technological innovation, research and education. Pennsylvania’s largest non-governmental employer, UPMC incorporates more than 92,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 800 medical offices and outpatient sites, and an insurance services division of more than 4 million members – the largest medical insurer of western Pennsylvania.

Institute for Racial Equity, LLC is an alliance of trainers, organizers and institutional leaders who are dedicated to the work of creating racially equitable organizations and systems. They help individuals and organizations across the country develop tools to challenge patterns of power and increase equity. They guide communities and organizations through a multi-phase capacity building process designed to help leaders and organizations understand and proactively address racism in their organizations and in the communities where they work.

The Groundwater Institute works with leaders from major institutions across the country in the corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors. They partner with leaders who intend to bring the full weight of their organizations and influence to the fight for racial equity. They believe in the power of linking community, local networks and institutional leaders together in this work. The work of the Groundwater Institute builds the skills of leaders to communicate, translate and apply racial equity analysis for strategic action to affect change.

The Bridgespan Group is a global nonprofit that works with social change organizations, philanthropists, and impact investors to make the world fairer and more just. Bridgespan’s services include strategy consulting and consulting, sourcing and due diligence, and management team support. They take what they learn from this work and draw on original research, identifying best practices and innovative ideas to share with the social sector.

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at [email protected]

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