Publications & Research

Arnold School study: Training black physicians to do colonoscopies may reduce colon cancer deaths

According to a study by researchers at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina and published in the journal, Cancer, training more African-American primary care physicians to do colonoscopies could improve access and help reduce colorectal cancer disparities. The study, led by Dr. Sudha Xirasagar, an associate professor in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management, and Dr. James Hébert, director of USC’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program, shows that African-American primary care physicians trained to do colonoscopies significantly increased their African-American patients’ colonoscopy screening rates. “These findings are noteworthy, given the nationwide gap between specialist availability and the screening-eligible population,” Xirasagar said. “Approximately 23 million people nationwide are eligible to be screened, while the current specialist capacity has been providing about 12 million.” Xirasagar said that increasing the number of African-American primary care physicians who are trained to perform colonoscopies improves access and lowers out-of-pocket costs for patients. The majority of colonoscopies are done by gastroenterologists. The increase in African-American patients who have had a colonoscopy screening also support an emerging consensus that African-Americans patients may be more comfortable with African-American physicians, particularly for certain types of procedures.

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