College of Public Health students graduating

Research Collaboration with 2-1-1 to Eliminate Health Disparities

Kate Eddens, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, served as co-editor and author of numerous articles in the December supplement of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which focused on research partnerships with 2-1-1 to eliminate health disparities.

Dr. Eddens’ research focuses on increasing the reach and effectiveness of health communication strategies to connect the underserved to health services and solutions, some of which includes developing targeted recruitment materials to increase participation in a state colorectal cancer screening program, examining disparities by race and ethnicity in cancer survivor stories online, and utilizing the 2-1-1 information and referral hotline to connect low-income callers with health services.

Dr. Eddens earned her doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Behavioral Science from Saint Louis University School of Public Health. She gained extensive experience through her work at the Health Communication Research Laboratory (HCRL), one of five Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research in the United States, as designated and awarded by the National Cancer Institute.

At the HCRL, Dr. 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 was to connect callers with unmet health needs to cancer prevention and control services available to them for free. Since 2008, this partnership has grown to include research-2-1-1 partnerships among many 2-1-1 systems nationally, as well as national 2-1-1 and United Way leadership.

This supplement is an introduction to 2-1-1, how it can help researchers reach populations in need and help 2-1-1 systems address the health needs of their callers. It is meant to be a foundation upon which future research can be built to eliminate health disparities. The supplement can be viewed for free through the National Cancer Institute’s website by clicking here.

Dr. Eddens plans to continue working with and advocating for the expansion and growth of 2-1-1 systems nationwide, and promoting research-2-1-1 partnerships to better serve and improve the health of low-income populations.