Indiana University Indiana University IU

Event: Connected Health: Using Technology to Leverage the Power of Ego Networks for Health Communication and Cancer Care in Underserved Populations


Thursday, May 4th 2017 at 2:30 pm
Persimmon Room, IMU

Livestream Dr. Eddens talk at:


Connected Health: Using Technology to Leverage the Power of Ego Networks for Health Communication and Cancer Care in Underserved Populations

Livestreaming will be available. Check back here for details. 

Abstract: Personal social networks have tremendous power to impact health, but are underutilized in health communication and patient care. The networks of medically underserved populations may leave these groups particularly vulnerable to social isolation, lack of access to information and resources, and negative norms that are detrimental to health. Collecting network data from individuals can be burdensome and tedious, and this acts as a barrier to measuring networks in community and clinical settings, particularly among individuals with low literacy. To address this issue, we created OpenEddi, an innovative, mobile-based, interactive software program designed specifically for field collection of network data. We use playful design to incorporate dynamic, interactive visualizations and fundamentals of clear communication to make the experience accessible for literacy-challenged populations. In this presentation, I’ll present results from feasibility testing of OpenEddi in a network study of rural Appalachian women participating in an innovative cancer screening program, experimental comparison of OpenEddi methods of data collection to traditional methods, current use of OpenEddi to understand the influence of social and communication networks on intention to screen for lung cancer in an Appalachian population, and future studies to develop OpenEddi as a clinical tool to track network changes throughout the cancer control continuum and proactively intervene to address network gaps with evidence-based interventions.

Bio: Kate Eddens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior & Society at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and an Associate Member of the Markey Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program. Her research investigates how social networks, word-of-mouth communication, and innovative technology can improve the reach and effectiveness of cancer communication, connecting underserved populations to health services, support, and solutions. Dr. Eddens’ current work focuses on the dissemination of innovative cancer prevention and control methods (e.g., lung cancer screening, self-collected vaginal swab for HPV detection) through word-of-mouth networks in underserved communities. To leverage the power of social networks and technology to impact the lives of marginalized populations, Dr. Eddens and Jesse Fagan of the LINKS Center for Social Network Analysis created OpenEddi, a dynamic, mobile-based network data collection program. Dr. Eddens is building additional mHealth tools upon OpenEddi that incorporate the power of personal networks and social capital to provide comprehensive support for cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors while allowing cancer care teams to provide improved, patient-centered care. Dr. Eddens holds a doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis where she trained at the Health Communication Research Laboratory, an NCI-funded Center for Excellence in Cancer Communication. She has a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Behavioral Science from Saint Louis University School of Public Health.