Commentary: Educational and clinical training for addressing tobacco-related cancer health disparities

Christine E. Sheffer, Monica Webb Hooper, Jamie S. Ostroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In the United States, tobacco use is a leading contributor to inequities in cancer health among individuals for many ethnic, racial, sexual minority, and other minority groups as well as individuals in lower socioeconomic groups and other underserved populations. Despite remarkable decreases in tobacco use prevalence rates in the United States over the past 50 years, the benefits of tobacco control efforts are not equitably distributed. Tobacco-related disparities include higher prevalence rates of smoking, lower rates of quitting, less robust responses to standard evidence-based treatments, substandard tobacco treatment delivery by health care providers, and an increased burden of tobacco-related cancers and other diseases. Among the multiple critical barriers to achieving progress in reducing tobacco treatment-related disparities, there are several educational barriers including a unidimensional or essentialist conceptualizations of the disparities; a tobacco treatment workforce unprepared to address the needs of tobacco users from underserved groups; and known research-to-practice gaps in understanding, assessing, and treating tobacco use among underserved groups. We propose the development of competency-based curricula that: 1) use intersectionality as an organizing framework for relevant knowledge; 2) teach interpersonal skills, such as expressing sociocultural respect, a lack of cultural superiority, and empathy as well as skills for developing other-oriented therapeutic relations; and 3) are grounded in the science of the evidence-based treatments for tobacco dependence. These curricula could be disseminated nationally in multiple venues and would represent significant progress toward addressing tobacco-related disparities. Ethn Dis. 2018;28(3):187-192.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-192
Number of pages6
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Cancer
  • Minority groups
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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