TAMPA, Fla. Moffitt Cancer Center is launching a nationwide study to help educate oncologists and address health care disparities among  LGBTQ+ patients. The study’s findings will inform the groundbreaking COLORS Training Program (Curriculum for Oncologists on LGBTQ+ populations to Optimize Relevance and Skills), which Moffitt developed in 2018.

The LGBTQ+ community has long been medically underserved and misunderstood.  The disparities experienced by these patients, especially in cancer care, can lead to poorer outcomes and overall health. Moffitt has been leading the charge to address the issues facing LGBTQ+ patients through its research and educational program development. The COLORS Training Program is designed to help oncologists better understand the unique challenges facing this patient population.

“We developed the COLORS Training Program after a nationwide survey led by our team revealed that a majority of oncologists say they are comfortable treating LGBTQ+ patients, but only half are confident they understand the health needs of that patient population. And the number drops dramatically when asked about transgender patients,” said Matthew Schabath, Ph.D., principal investigator of the nationwide study and associate member in the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Moffitt. “We are excited to expand our national study to develop new and better educational resources for oncologists across the U.S., and most importantly, to be able to provide quality care to the LGBTQ+ patient community.”

The objective of the COLORS Training Program is to improve understanding of LGBTQ+-related issues across the cancer care continuum. The online program contains four 30-minute modules. Two modules cover general topics, such as sexual orientation and gender identity. The remaining two modules discuss oncology-focused topics, including fertility and hormone therapy for LGBTQ+ patients undergoing cancer treatment. 

The program has been pilot-tested by a group of oncologists in Florida and now, thanks to funding from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation and the PRIDE Alliance employee resource group at Bristol Myers Squibb, it is being provided online to oncologists nationwide. PRIDE Alliance represents Bristol Myers Squibb’s community of LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies, and in addition to supporting internal colleagues is focused on reducing health disparities experienced by LGBTQ+ patients in the company’s core therapeutic areas and supporting the communities in which colleagues live and work.

“Bristol Myers Squibb is proud to support the COLORS Training Program, which is aligned with our goals to deliver the highest quality health outcomes in misunderstood and marginalized populations, including the LGBTQ+ community” said Paul Shay, global lead, PRIDE Alliance, “Together with the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, we believe this program will have significant impact for cancer patients in the this community.”

For this expanded study, Schabath and his research colleagues will invite about 2,000 oncologists, selected at random from the American Medical Association database, to participate in the training, with the goal of enlisting 600 doctors over the course of six months. The oncologists will be randomized into two arms: COLORS training or general LGBTQ+ health education training. Participating doctors will be surveyed following their two-hour online training and will also receive continuing medical education credit.

The study is scheduled to begin in October. After the trial is completed, the training will be made available to all medical oncologists for continuing medical education and adapted for additional health care professionals, such as nurses and physician assistants. 

This is not the only LGBTQ+-related training program developed by Moffitt. The cancer center has had many in-house employee-centric training programs approved by the Human Rights Campaign, including its inaugural LGBTQ+ symposium. The efforts have secured Moffitt as the only Florida cancer center included on the Healthcare Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool that evaluates health care facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees. Moffitt has made the list nine years in a row.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is the No. 11 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 7,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube