Cancer impacts all of us, but clinical trials to improve cancer care do not currently serve all of us Equitably

SWOG and The Hope Foundation, in collaboration with Genentech, have launched a multi-phased, multi-year initiative to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) among SWOG leadership, membership, and throughout its cancer clinical trials. The projects detailed below are ongoing efforts.

Realizing DEI In Leadership

Charles D. Blanke, MD“Efforts to ensure widespread SWOG engagement with diversity, equity, and inclusion—DEI—must start at the top.” – SWOG Group Chair, Dr. Charles Blanke

In the SWOG strategic plan 2019-2024, one aspect of the Group’s vision is to remain a national and international leader in practice-changing clinical research through diversity and inclusion in leadership. In pursuit of that goal, SWOG has engaged a firm, Pope Consulting, to assess where leadership currently stand with DEI attitudes, practices, policies, and resources; and to help the Group plot its path forward.

In phase 1 of the work, Pope performed a maturity analysis to assess the current state of and vision for DEI within SWOG leadership. This phase included 15 hour-long interviews with a select set of SWOG executive officers, committee leaders, and senior staff to gather information as part of an analysis of DEI structures and systems in the group. Pope’s subsequent recommendations fell within four “pillars,” or focus areas: strategies, structures, systems, and practices. Below are some of the improvements currently underway.

[email protected], Module 6: Improving Diversity and Representativeness of SWOG Cancer Research Network Clinical Trial Participants

We funded our first career grant specific to furthering DEI efforts across our network trials. Awarded to Patricia Robinson, MD, the DEI Career Development Award provides the opportunity to lead a network-wide project designed to increase the diversity of SWOG trials. Robinson’s efforts include assisting with the rollout of a member training program called [email protected], Module 6: Improving Diversity and Representativeness of Clinical Trial Participants.

Team [email protected] Module 6 Field Guide

Team [email protected] Module 6 Methodology

The implementation of Module 6 – along with outreach to advocacy groups to engage diverse patient communities – is a partnership between the SWOG patient advocate and recruitment and retention committees, chaired by Rick Bangs, MBA, and Allison Caban-Holt, PhD, respectively. These efforts are centered around increasing diversity in cancer trial participants, and leading significant organizational change to ensure members are equipped to do so.

To build additional capacity for the work, a team of DEI Research Champions were brought on board for 2022. In addition, a DEI monitoring committee was established, and SWOG has begun its search for a vice chair for diversity, equity, inclusion, and professional integrity. 

DEI champions

DEI Champions work with research committees and study teams to identify action plans to increase diversity and equity in research participation. They will be experts providing tools, evidence, and strategies to reduce disparities, improve study outcomes, and expand SWOG’s DEI methodology. Champions will provide strategies for research program modifications and policies.

About SWOG DEI Research Champions Inaugural DEI Champions Announced

DEI monitoring committee

The SWOG DEI Monitoring Committee (DEIMC) reviews diversity and representativeness of trial participants at the group, committee, and subcommittee levels, but will focus on feedback and modification for individual studies. The DEIMC will prepare a semi-annual report, and that report will be delivered to the vice chair of DEII, the group chair, and the corresponding research committee’s leadership for execution at the study (including the committee’s DEI Champion), committee, and group levels.

DEI Monitoring Committee CharterMore on the announcement of the new DEIMC

vice chair for DEI & professional integrity

The new vice chair will provide oversight of DEI initiatives to support SWOG’s strategic plan, including leading evaluative research on policy changes, and will hold an ombudsperson position, as a neutral and confidential resource for SWOG members. By integrating these key areas within a single leadership position, SWOG seeks to center diversity, inclusion, and integrity within its operational and scientific infrastructure, supporting a research and work environment in which all have an opportunity to succeed.

A Vice Chair for DEI & Professional Integrity

Minority/Underserved Recruitment Initiative: A Pilot Grant Program for Improved Outreach & Accrual

In spring 2021, we kicked off this NCORP-focused initiative with a 2-hour virtual symposium for information gathering and shared learning, serving as a springboard for research ideas to test promising accrual strategies across network sites. Funding for two initial pilot studies have been announced, and up to three more may be awarded in 2022. 

View Pilot Grant Opportunity

The symposium featured 2 rounds of site presentations, each followed by a brief panel discussion. Participating sites included: (session 1) Hawaii Minority Underserved NCORP, Upstate Carolina NCORP, Columbia University MU NCORP, Montefiore Medical Center MU NCORP, and (session 2) New Mexico MU NCORP, Stroger Hospital of Cook County MU NCORP, Puerto Rico MU NCORP, Baptist Memorial Healthcare/Mid South MU NCORP.

Compiled Symposium Slide Presentations

NCORP Special Symposium: Improving Representation in Cancer Clinical Trials from The Hope Foundation on Vimeo.

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