In low-income populations, problems like paying utility bills, finding affordable housing and buying food are sometimes resolved and sometimes not. Resolving these problems increases the likelihood a person will also take action to improve his or her health, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
The study involved callers to the 2-1-1 help line in Missouri who were seeking assistance with a variety of unmet basic needs and were also found to need at least one of six cancer prevention and control services.
Study participants were followed for four months after calling 2-1-1. Those who reported at one-month follow-up that their basic needs problems had been resolved were more likely to call a health referral they had received for cancer prevention and control services than those whose basic needs were not resolved.
The results demonstrate the potential benefits of health organizations working with social services, said Dr. Matthew W. Kreuter, associate dean for public health and Kahn Family Professor of Public Health at the Brown School, senior author on the paper led by PhD candidate Ms. Tess Thompson.
“Forging partnerships with such agencies holds promise for helping resolve the unmet basic needs of vulnerable populations and following up to encourage preventive and therapeutic health behaviors,” he said.
The study was published August 20 in Health Education & Behavior.