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2-1-1 could be effective tool in fighting cancer disparities
Date:6/7/2012

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 poverty. 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 cancer control service such as smoking cessation information, and nearly 40 percent needed at least two services," Purnell 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 health 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 cancer prevention and control."

Purnell says this study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Health Care for th
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Contact: Jessica Martin
jessica_martin@wustl.edu
314-935-5251
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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