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Kate Eddens, PhD
Kate Eddens’ work lie squarely at the intersection of social, economic, and behavioral determinants of health, is transdisciplinary in both approach and methods, and is centrally focused on eliminating health disparities. Her research agenda focuses on increasing the reach and effectiveness of health communication strategies to connect the underserved to health services and solutions. She is particularly interested in the understanding how communication networks affect health outcomes among the poor, and in utilizing social network analysis, word-of-mouth communication and marketing strategies to reach the underserved with relevant, trustworthy, and actionable information. Her dissertation research examines sources and patterns of information about health care reform within the social networks of underserved adults with unmet health needs. To facilitate this work, she has collaborated with faculty with expertise in health economics, health reform, social network analysis, health literacy, and word-of-mouth marketing. Other research 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. Dr. Eddens serves 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. The supplement will be published in December 2012. 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.