Advancing Equity in Cancer Care for People with Mental Illness

Image of woman doctor and woman patient

Patients with serious mental illness (SMI) experience inequities in cancer care that contribute to increased cancer mortality. Co-morbid mental illness is also associated with increased healthcare utilization and costs compared to other patients with cancer.

Pro-active psychiatry consultation and person-centered, team-based care are promising approaches that may increase access to cancer care. We will discuss how we adapted the collaborative care model to address the needs of patients with SMI and cancer and share best practices and case examples.

Presented by Dr. Kelly Irwin

picture of Dr. Kelly IrwinDr. Irwin is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a faculty psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center and MGH Schizophrenia Program. Dr. Irwin is the Director of the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program, a research and clinical program focused on improving cancer outcomes for people with severe mental illness. She also co-founded Engage -- a community network that engaged diverse voices to promote equity in cancer care and research for people with mental illness and regularly collaborates with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.

Dr. Irwin has an MD from Harvard Medical School and an MPH from Harvard School of Public Health. She completed her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean in 2012 and is currently leading a randomized controlled trial funded by the National Cancer Institute that is investigating the impact of proactive psychiatry consultation and case management on cancer care for people with serious mental illness.



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