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SelfMade Health Network Partners with University of Kentucky to Further Reduce Lung Cancer and Tobacco Use Disparities

HAMPTON, Va., March 11, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As referenced in Cancer Incidence in Appalachia (2004–2011), higher cancer incidence rates persist in a number of regions (including the Appalachia region) and appear to be caused by a convergence of multiple contributing factors. More specifically, geographic variations in cancer occurrence reflect differences in socioeconomic factors related to population demographics, health care access and utilization, and preventive screening behaviors as well as differences in environmental exposures and, in some instances, tobacco use. As a result, some populations and gender groups experience higher mortality and lower survival rates from cancer and generally do not possess the same overall health status.

SelfMade Health Network is a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Consortium of National Networks to Impact Populations Experiencing Tobacco-Related and Cancer Health Disparities. The consortium of national networks advances commercial tobacco use prevention and cancer prevention in populations experiencing tobacco-related and cancer health disparities. Specifically, the SelfMade Health Network focuses on those populations with low socioeconomic status characteristics residing in rural, urban, and frontier regions. The SelfMade Health Network recently selected the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Public Health in coordination with the Kentucky Cancer Program and the Kentucky Cancer Consortium as the newly designated Regional Resource Lead Organization (RRLO) to address lung cancer disparities in the Appalachia. Specifically, the UK-based RRLO team along with the Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville will lead efforts to increase early lung cancer screening, treatment, and survivorship. It also will lead strategic efforts to enhance tobacco cessation support chiefly among male populations, including uninsured, low-income employees and/or unemployed adult tobacco users residing in primarily rural and medically underserved areas.

"We are excited about this opportunity to address lung cancer disparities in Southern Kentucky with a particular focus on worksites with predominantly male employees," said RRLO Principal Investigator Dr. Jennifer Knight, who is an assistant professor in UK College of Public Health Department of Health Management and Policy. "With the existing partnerships within the Kentucky Cancer Program, Kentucky Cancer Consortium, and UK College of Public Health, we are well-poised to make a difference by working with communities to develop, implement, and evaluate tailored interventions to positively impact the health of Southern Kentuckians."

This project contributes to the UK College of Public Health's deep commitment to remedying the dramatic health disparities that burden Kentucky communities. "With among the highest rates of tobacco-related illnesses, including cancer, in the U.S., Kentucky must be a leader in the elimination of this deadly and costly disease that causes the suffering of so many," said Dr. Nancy Schoenberg, Associate Dean for Research in the UK College of Public Health. "Dr. Knight's partnerships and extensive community outreach will help foster a cultural shift toward health promotion. The UK College of Public Health is honored to be associated with this important program, one poised to make a difference in promoting health equity."

The SelfMade Health Network RRLO's primary role is to advance Healthy People 2020 Objectives from a geographic and culturally relevant perspective to eliminate health disparities across counties and subsequently states. The UK-based RRLO team will serve as the "Community Resource Hub" leading efforts targeting eight Kentucky counties, including Clay, Ohio, Warren, McCracken, Christian, Perry, Jackson, and Casey counties. This project will involve the coordinated efforts of the Kentucky Cancer Program East based at UK and the Kentucky Cancer Program West based at the University of Louisville to most effectively reach the target population in each county.

"We are honored that a well-respected institution with a rich history and reputation such as the University of Kentucky along with other organizations have committed to promoting cross-sector collaboration as we strive to address disparities. We look forward to creating a multi-generational shift among vulnerable, underserved and low-resourced populations resulting in the prevention of costly, life-altering and serious complications associated with Cancers and tobacco use," said Dwana "Dee" Calhoun, MS, Director of the SelfMade Health Network.

Additional information about national and regional initiatives are posted on the SelfMade Health Network website at: www.selfmadehealth.org/mobilize/national-regional-initiatives

SelfMade Health Network is a national network of dedicated organizations, businesses, service agencies, academic institutions and communities seeking to conquer tobacco-related health disparities and expand the promotion of cancer prevention, screening, treatment and survivorship in vulnerable populations. It is our mission to educate, empower and mobilize regions, networks, communities and systems leading to a healthier world, workforce and generation free of preventable lung, colorectal and breast cancers. For more information, please visit www.selfmadehealth.org or follow us Twitter at @SelfMadeHealth. Individuals and organizations interested in joining SelfMade Health Network or subscribing to its communications may email us at info@selfmadehealth.org.

CONTACT: Dwana 'Dee' Calhoun, SelfMade Health Network Director Phone: (757) 509-0227

Source: SelfMade Health Network