Expert Highlights Need for Bias Training to Reduce Opioid Access Disparities in Cancer


An expert from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute describes several key strategies for mitigating racial disparities in opioid access among patients with cancer near end of life.

It is important to seek out training opportunities and check unconscious biases through the help of training to help reduce the racial inequities surrounding opioid access for patients with cancer near the end of life, according to Andrea C. Enzinger, MD.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, additional research will be required to fully grasp causes and repercussions for disparities in opioid access at end of life, including examining other populations. A multilevel examination may work to determine what is driving the inequities and lead the way for future strategies.

Enzinger, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, spoke with CancerNetwork® discussed how clinics can work towards mitigating these disparities by allocating money and resources towards provide training and instilling compassion across the cancer care continuum.


I hope [what] my colleagues take away from this conversation is an added awareness of the disparities and inequities that our patients face when they are near the end of life. We all come into the field of oncology wanting to make a difference [and] provide high-quality and equitable care. We all can have our own unconscious biases and it’s on us to check those [biases], to seek out training opportunities, and to really think with compassion and with a clear head when we’re looking at a patient in front of us.

We can all be changemakers in our own spheres and own clinics [by considering] the barriers that our patients face and trying to get the supportive care medications and the help that they need to have a good quality of life at the end of their life. [Oncology care teams] can be part of the solution in thinking about where to put resources and dollars in their own clinic to try to mitigate this problem.


Enzinger AC, Ghosh K, Keating NL, et al. Racial and ethnic disparities in opioid access and urine drug screening among older patients with poor-prognosis cancer near the end of life. J Clin Oncol. Published online January 10, 2023. doi:10.1200/JCO.22.01413

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