Indigenous cancer care, MS among U of S research projects awarded $2 million
- EFN Staff | July 05, 2018
Complicated, foreign and often inhospitable. This is how an Indigenous patient once described Saskatchewan’s complex cancer care system to University of Saskatchewan researcher Dr. Gary Groot.
That conversation convinced Groot that more needs to be done to support Indigenous cancer patients in the province, who continue to encounter systemic and racial barriers while attempting to access cancer care.
Groot, a surgical oncologist, clinical professor in surgery, and associate professor in Community Health and Epidemiology at the U of S, has been awarded a $120,000 Establishment Grant by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) for a pilot research program that will use peer navigators to help Indigenous patients deal with the health system.
Groot is collaborating with the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan to gain a deeper understanding of the unique health experiences and specific barriers facing Indigenous people with cancer, so that cancer services can be redesigned from the user’s perspective.
The study involves several northern Saskatchewan communities including Prince Albert, Cumberland House, Black Lake and Shellbrook. It will follow 30 Indigenous cancer patients accompanied by an Indigenous patient navigator as they travel through the cancer system from first diagnosis to their return home.
Using interviews and questionnaires, Groot hopes to gain a clearer picture of how navigators might improve patient understanding and remove barriers patients face in accessing and receiving care. He also wants to raise awareness among health care providers about the importance of creating culturally safe and culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous patients.
“As I've got to know the Indigenous community better, and I start to understand how they see the world, how they interact with it, and the challenges they bring to the table, my capacity and ability to have ideal interactions with them as a care provider has increased significantly. If I can do that I believe others can do that as well," he said.
The award to Dr. Groot is among nine Establishment Grants and eight research fellowships totalling $2 million awarded to U of S researchers by SHRF on June 29.
“These awards and fellowships are a worthy recognition of the hard work and talent of our community of researchers, and they also reflect the tremendous contribution the U of S is making to advancing health care in Saskatchewan,” said U of S Vice-President Research Karen Chad.