Department: Health, Behavior & Society
Title: Assistant Professor
Email Address: email@example.com
Phone: (859) 218-0111
Location: Bowman Hall 352
Kate Eddens’ research investigates how social networks, word-of-mouth communication, and innovative technology can improve the reach and effectiveness of health communication, connecting people to health services, support, and solutions. Her research is focused in three main areas: 1) the use of social networks and technology to improve health, 2) applied health communication to eliminate cancer health disparities, and 3) developing partnerships with community-based organizations for intervention delivery. All three of these themes are reflected in her ongoing project “Connecting Appalachians to Lung Cancer Screening: Leveraging Social Networks to Reduce Lung Cancer,” funded by the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program.
To leverage the power of social networks and technology to impact the lives of marginalized populations, Dr. Eddens and Jesse Fagan (LINKS Center for Social Network Analysis at the Gatton College of Business and Economics) created OpenEddi, an innovative, tablet-based, interactive survey software program designed specifically for field collection of network data. The software utilizes modern technologies that allow for dynamic, interactive visualizations and incorporates fundamentals of clear communication to make the experience accessible for literacy-challenged populations. Dr. Eddens’ work on developing OpenEddi for use in low literacy populations was discussed in The Cancer Epidemic in Central Appalachia article in Newsweek’s Special Health Issue Curing Cancer, July 31 – August 7, 2015. You can explore a beta version of OpenEddi at www.openeddi.com.
Dr. Eddens’ early work and formal research training in health communication with health disparities populations involved the creation, implementation and evaluation of targeted and tailored communication interventions for cancer screening and prevention behavior. She is now applying these principles to her work with OpenEddi and other technological innovations, as well as serving as Communication Specialist on the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative, a statewide project developing and evaluating three unique intervention programs to promote lung cancer survivorship in Kentucky.
Innovations such as lung cancer screening stand the best opportunity of being adopted by marginalized populations when there is buy-in from trusted community members and organizations. This buy-in can be promoted by community-engaged partnership research. At the Health Communication Research Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, a NCI-funded Center for Excellence in Cancer Communication, Eddens and Dr. Matthew Kreuter began a partnership with United Way 2-1-1 Missouri, a 3-digit telephone exchange that connects callers in need to basic health and social services. The goal of this partnership was to connect low-income callers with unmet health needs to free-of-charge cancer prevention and control services. Dr. Eddens served as a co-editor for a special issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine focused on research partnerships with 2-1-1 to eliminate health disparities, available at http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/srtb/211eliminate-hd.html. Dr. Eddens currently serves on the United Way of Kentucky 2-1-1 Planning Committee to assist with planning for expansion of 2-1-1 services across the Commonwealth and to promote research-2-1-1 partnerships to better serve and improve the health of low-income populations.
Dr. Eddens enjoys promoting the advancement of women in the sciences, and serves as a founding steering team member of #IAmAWomanInSTEM, an initiative on the UK campus to engage, empower, and retain women in undergraduate STEM majors. She is a member of the Markey Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control Program, serves on the Internal Advisory Committee for the Behavioral and Community-Based Research (BCBR) Shared Resource Facility of the Markey Cancer Center, serves on the United Way of the Bluegrass Data and Metrics Committee, the Kentucky Cancer Consortium Lung Network, and is an editor for JMIR Cancer. She also serves on the Academic Advisory Board of CareSource. When she’s not doing all of this stuff, she likes impromptu dance parties with her kids, spending time outside, training to be a yoga teacher, and endless planning of the next band she’ll start with her very talented husband. (It probably won’t happen.)