Addressing Social Risks in Cancer Care
Social risks are adverse conditions or contextual factors associated with poor health. They may increase an individual’s likelihood of having unmet social needs, such as food-, housing-, and transportation insecurity. Social risks and social needs can pose significant barriers to cancer care and contribute to poorer health-related outcomes, especially for cancer patients and survivors from historically underserved and marginalized backgrounds.
Healthcare organizations are increasingly implementing approaches to capture and address patient’s social risks and needs. However, there is limited evidence to guide the delivery of system-level efforts, especially in diverse cancer care delivery settings. Reducing disparities in cancer outcomes and advancing equitable cancer care delivery will require effective integration of social care and clinical care across the cancer care continuum, from prevention and screening through end-of-life care.
What is social risk research?
In cancer care delivery, social risk research focuses on understanding and addressing the structural and institutional contexts and processes that impact the delivery of quality cancer care and outcomes. Social risk research includes developing, implementing, and evaluating multilevel interventions that integrate social and cancer care, such as:
- Identifying the presence of social risks or needs in patients and communities
- Adjusting or informing care for cancer patients and survivors experiencing social risks and needs
- Connecting cancer patients and/or caregivers with social care resources
- Organizing and distributing new and existing social care resources within and outside cancer care delivery settings
- Cultivating clinical-community partnerships to increase the availability and accessibility of social care resources for cancer patients and communities
Social risk research incorporates equity-conscious approaches that recognize the unique histories of patients, communities of color, and others who have been historically underserved and marginalized. This research engages communities as partners throughout the research process and applies intersectionality (e.g., overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage based on class, gender, and race) as a conceptual and methodological framework.
The NCI’s Healthcare Delivery Research Program supports research in this scientific area by developing and facilitating access to funding opportunities, training, and data resources.
Notice of Funding Opportunities
- PAR-22-072: Measures and methods to advance research on minority health and health disparities-related constructs (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
- PAR-22-092: Health care models for persons with multiple chronic conditions from populations that experience health disparities: Advancing health care towards health equity
- NOT-OD-22-135: Stimulating Research to Understand and Address Hunger, Food and Nutrition Insecurity
- NOT-CA-22-045: Addressing Cancer-Related Financial Hardship to Improve Patient Outcomes
- PAR-22-064: Patient-Clinician Relationship: Improving Health Outcomes Among Populations that Experience Health Disparities (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
- RFA-DK-22-038: Pilot Interventions to Integrate Social Care and Medical Care to Improve Health Equity (R01—Clinical Trial Required
- Other funding opportunities
Workshops and Webinars
- Workshop on Housing and Obesity: Gaps, Opportunities, and Future Directions for Advancing Health Equity. Nov 2022.
- Promoting Health Equity in Cancer Care: A workshop. Oct 2021.
- Transportation Needs Among Patients with Cancer: A Virtual Webinar. September 2021.
- Food Insecurity, Neighborhood Food Environment, and Nutrition Health Disparities: State of the Science Workshop. September 2021.
- Housing Insecurity Among Patients with Cancer: A Webinar. Aug 2021.
- Food Insecurity Among Patients with Cancer: A Webinar. May 2021.
Related Reports and Publications
- Report - Integrating Social Care Into The Delivery of Health Care. 2019
- Publication - National Cancer Institute-funded Social Risk Research in Cancer Care Delivery: Opportunities for Future Research. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2022.
- NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS): Health Disparities and Health Equity
- NCI Healthcare Delivery Research Program: Social Determinants of Health by US Census Tract
- National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities: PhenX Social Determinants of Health Assessments Collection
- United States Census Bureau: Community Resilience Estimates Equity Supplement
- University of San Francisco Social Interventions Research & Evaluation Network: Social Needs Screening Tool Comparison Table