A recent study sheds light on the challenges faced by black veterans when it comes to receiving timely referrals for lung cancer. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, examined the referral patterns for lung cancer among black and white veterans.

Neelima Navuluri, M.D., from the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues examined whether racial disparities in completing lung cancer screening after referral exist within the Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Analysis included 4,562 veterans referred for LCS between July 1, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2021.

The researchers found that 37.1 percent of veterans ultimately completed screening, while 59.3 percent never connected with the LCS program after referral and an informational mailer or telephone call, indicating a critical point in the LCS process. Among Black veterans, screening rates were substantially lower, compared to White veterans (30.5 versus 41.3 percent). When adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic factors, Black veterans had 0.66 times lower odds of screening completion. Risk factors associated with lower odds of screening completion among Black veterans included age, marital status, and current smoking status, while pack-year history, combat veteran status, and care assessment needs were factors associated with higher odds of screening completion.

“These findings can inform qualitative and implementation research to design and assess interventions focused on improving LCS rates among Black veterans,” the authors write.

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