2-1-1 could be effective tool in fighting cancer disparities

June 7, 2012 By Jessica Martin, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

(Medical Xpress) -- The 2-1-1 phone information and referral system could be a key partner in efforts to reduce cancer disparities affecting low-income and racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S., finds a new study by Jason Purnell, PhD, assistant professor of public health at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

2-1-1, a nationally designated three-digit telephone exchange like 9-1-1, is an information and referral system that serves millions of Americans living in . Callers speak to an information and referral specialist who identifies their needs and provides referrals to local resources. United Way and other agencies sponsor 2-1-1 systems throughout the country.

“After surveying over 1,400 2-1-1 callers from four states, we found that nearly 70 percent of callers needed at least one service such as smoking cessation information, and nearly 40 percent needed at least two services,” Purnell says.

Jason Purnell, PhD, assistant professor of public health at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, talks about his new study on the cancer control and prevention needs of 2-1-1 callers. “The 2-1-1 phone information and referral system could be a key partner in efforts to reduce cancer disparities affecting low-income and racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.,” he says.

“Compared with state and national rates, 2-1-1 callers in Missouri, North Carolina, Texas and Washington had greater need for cancer screening and prevention. Callers were also much more likely to be uninsured, a factor consistently associated with underutilization of cancer control services. Clearly, 2-1-1  systems are reaching Americans with significant unmet needs.”

Purnell found that callers are willing to answer questions about their health and to receive referrals for needed preventive health services.

“Callers were particularly receptive to referrals for mammography, adult HPV vaccination and Pap testing, with approximately 60-72 percent of callers who needed these services accepting a referral,” he says.

“No fewer than a third of those in need accepted referrals overall, suggesting potential for effective intervention in a number of areas for and control.”

Purnell says this study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, illuminates the reach of 2-1-1.

“We estimated that we could reach millions of people who are in need of cancer control and prevention services each year by using 2-1-1, and that’s an incredible impact,” Purnell says.

“There are very few systems that could match that reach and impact.”

Purnell notes that traditional marketing about cancer prevention and control tends to be not as effective with low-income populations.

“The nice thing about 2-1-1 is that the underserved populations are already using the system for help with basic needs and services,” he says.

“You could use this system to deliver health messages in a more targeted and potentially more efficient way.

“One of the ways 2-1-1 can be used is by simply asking people what their cancer control and prevention needs are, but also by proactively offering prevention referrals for smoking cessation referrals and mammography and colonoscopy referrals,” Purnell says.

Explore further: Three fears may discourage colorectal cancer screening

More information: To view the study, “Cancer Control Needs of 2-1-1 Callers in Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington,” and a complete list of study co-authors, visit: muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_ … 23/23.2.purnell.html

Related Stories

Three fears may discourage colorectal cancer screening

April 30, 2012
New research about why people forego colorectal cancer (CRC) screening suggests that three fears play a significant role; fear of embarrassment, fear of getting AIDS and fear of pain may make some seniors skip the potentially ...

Study looks at discrimination's impact on smoking

March 15, 2012
Smoking, the leading preventable cause of mortality in the United States, continues to disproportionately impact lower income members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Internet interventions beat depression

December 1, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study from The Australian National University shows that online therapy programs can play a major and long-lasting role in treating depression.

Doctors need training to help smokers quit

May 18, 2012
Health care professionals do a better job helping people quit smoking when they are trained in smoking cessation techniques, a new Cochrane Library review finds.

What causes cancer?

February 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Fears that involuntary exposure to chemicals in food and consumer products causes cancer are not supported by evidence, and anxiety about their dangers is diverting attention from proven methods of cancer ...

Recommended for you

Presurgical targeted therapy delays relapse of high-risk stage 3 melanoma

January 17, 2018
A pair of targeted therapies given before and after surgery for melanoma produced at least a six-fold increase in time to progression compared to standard-of-care surgery for patients with stage 3 disease, researchers at ...

Dulling cancer therapy's double-edged sword

January 17, 2018
Researchers have discovered that killing cancer cells can actually have the unintended effect of fueling the proliferation of residual, living cancer cells, ultimately leading to aggressive tumor progression.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.