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Integrating Cancer Control into 2-1-1: The HCRL reaches high-risk populations through existing systems


Can building cancer control referrals into 2-1-1 services save lives and help eliminate health disparities? 

Every year 16 million Americans call United Way 2-1-1 for help. This program links callers to social-service agencies in their community who can help address their unmet basic needs. To reach this population, we have created a system that allows the Information Specialists at 2-1-1 to determine the cancer prevention needs of callers and provide free or low-cost local cancer referral services when they deliver referrals for the callers’ initial needs. This is the first time cancer referral services have been included in the United Way 2-1-1 structure. 

The HCRL’s Center for Excellence in Cancer Communication Research has developed relationships with the Missouri United Way 2-1-1 as well as 2-1-1 systems in other states that are hoping to use our program as a model.

The HCRL has pioneered research into the use of 2-1-1 help lines to address health issues among poor families. The results of that research — as well as other 2-1-1 related research — were published in a December 2012 Special Supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Research Collaboration with 2-1-1 to Eliminate Health Disparities. The supplement, edited by HCRL Director Matt Kreuter and HCRL alum Kate Eddens, is now available on theNational Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences website.


In this supplement, you can:

  • Learn about developing research partnerships to address health disparities
  • Read case studies about how researchers and 2-1-1 have worked together to address disparities
  • Read empirical studies that enhance our knowledge of the needs of 2-1-1 callers and our understanding of how to develop and test innovative ideas for better serving populations with health disparities
  • Explore future directions for collaborative research with 2-1-1

Key faculty and staff


 Project Publications

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