- Delivering health information and referrals through 2-1-1 is promising, but these systems need efficient ways of identifying callers at increased risk.
- Callers to 2-1-1 have greater need for and lesser use of cancer control services than other Americans. Integrating cancer risk assessment and referrals to preventive services into 2-1-1 systems is both feasible and acceptable to callers.
- Disparities in health status by socioeconomic position are pervasive in the U.S. Information and communication alone will not solve the problem, yet both are essential parts of any serious public health effort to eliminate health disparities. Their impact can be seen and measured in at least three ways: (1) expanding the reach of information into vulnerable populations and information-poor communities; (2) increasing the effectiveness of information by making it meaningful in the context of people's lives; and (3) making connections that link people with tangible services they need.
- The 2-1-1 system is a Federal Communications Commission nationally designated 3-digit telephone information and referral (I&R) system that connects callers with basic needs to health and social services in their community. Although the 2-1-1 system has a number of limitations—uneven geographic coverage within states, diverse data collection and storage systems, and scarce resources—it also offers an unprecedented opportunity to reduce health disparities by providing an infrastructure with near national reach that can enable partnerships between researchers and 2-1-1 systems to monitor health inequalities; track utilization of health services; and provide evidence-based information, referral, and behavioral interventions to vulnerable segments of the population.