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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: “Long Tail” Can Help Eliminate Health Disparities

“Long Tail” thinking in public health might yield greater progress in eliminating health disparities, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Matthew Kreuter, PhD, professor of public health in the Brown School and professor of medicine,is a leading expert in health communication. The founder and director of the Health Communication Research Laboratory, he has developed and evaluated a range of

[Photo: Dr. Matthew W. Kreuter]

Long Tail thinking stems from new business models recognizing that selling small quantities of many niche items can be more profitable than selling a few blockbuster items.

Researchers from the Brown School’s Health Communication Research Laboratory (HCRL) and Social Systems Design Lab examined data from more than 500 health agencies in 47 states who used the HCRL’s MIYO (Make It Your Own) system to create small media and client reminders that promoted colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. MIYO products in the Long Tail were significantly more likely to target racial and ethnic minorities with higher rates of CRC and lower rates of screening, researchers found.

“Long Tail thinking and advances in technology have opened a promising new path to achieve progress for vulnerable populations,” said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Matthew W. Kreuter, associate dean for public health and Kahn Family Professor of Public Health at the Brown School.

The findings were published online October 16 in the American Journal of Public Health.

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