Public Health Researcher Awarded Grant to Examine Lung Cancer Screening Behaviors in Appalachia

Lexington, Ky. (March 24, 2016) — University of Kentucky College of Public Health researcher Kate Eddens received a grant from the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program to investigate how social ties and communication networks influence Appalachians’ lung cancer screening behaviors.

Eddens, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior, will examine the social models and communication networks that inform Appalachian residents’ attitudes toward lung cancer screening and cancer screening behaviors. The $150,000 grant will support the research and subsequent interventional efforts to promote discussions about lung cancer with health care providers.

Kentuckians experience the highest rates of lung cancer in the nation, and the disease is most prevalent in the state’s Appalachian region. According to Eddens, Appalachians rely on strong social and community networks to obtain and disperse information. In addition to measuring knowledge and attitudes about lung cancer screening and intention to screen, the study will describe community and social support networks Appalachians use to formulate attitudes and make decisions about lung cancer screening.

“Through this project, we hope to create effective, translational interventions that we can then implement through the natural advice and discussion networks that already exist in Eastern Kentucky communities to promote shared decision-making regarding lung cancer screening,” Eddens said. “Ultimately, this will reduce the tremendous burden of lung cancer death in Appalachian Kentucky among those at greatest risk of lung cancer.”

In 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services task force recommended annual lung cancer screening for high-risk adults. A new preventive procedure, lung cancer screening was approved for coverage by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in February 2015. While lung cancer screening isn’t appropriate for everyone, Eddens hopes to promote more discussions about screening among high-risk adults in Appalachia.

“For those of us who want to help reduce the burden of lung cancer in Kentucky, understanding how the people in an individual’s life influence what they think, feel, and do about lung cancer and lung cancer screening will help us to build the best interventions promoting discussion of screening with a health care provider,” Eddens said.

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