Emory Report

June 26, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 36

Scholarship & Resesarch

Adams receives grant for cancer screening study

By Lillian Kim

The American Cancer Society has awarded a two-year, $448,000 grant to Kathleen Adams, associate professor of health policy and management in the Rollins School of Public Health, to study how major policy changes have affected cancer screening rates among Americans, especially those of lower socioeconomic status.

The goal of Adams' research is to examine the role of income and health insurance on cancer screening rates in the context of state and national policy changes, such as welfare reform and Medicare modifications.

The study will pay particular attention to state variation in screening rates and how public health efforts in each state may affect screening behavior.

Adams is joined by Kenneth Thorpe, Woodruff Professor of Health Policy and Management at Rollins and the chair of that department, and Ned Becker, an associate professor at Rollins, as co-investigators of the study.

Using data from 1997 to 2000, the researchers will compare screening rates for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers among low- and high-income individuals. Specifically, they will examine screening rates among low-income women for breast and cervical cancer before and after the 1996 welfare reform was implemented in 13 states. Also, they will study how screening rates for colorectal cancer among older people have been affected by recent national changes in Medicare.

Adams hopes the study will help national and state policymakers as they evaluate the effects of expanded Medicare coverage, especially with relation to the poor elderly who also qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the indigent. She and her colleagues also think the study will shed insight on unintended effects of welfare reform that have helped reduce insurance coverage and, perhaps, screening rates of low-income women.

"In this era of increasingly managed health care, we need to be sure our public policies work together to increase the use of cost-effective preventive health care such as age-appropriate cancer screens," Adams said.

Trained as an economist, Adams has spent most of her career focusing on vulnerable, low-income populations. She has headed several large projects related to Medicaid populations and policies at the national level, and has worked extensively on issues of access to health care among low-income women and children.

Adams recently completed a project funded by the Kaiser Family Foundation on the differences between privately insured populations and those covered by Medicaid in terms of demographics, health risk profiles and use and costs of health resources. Currently, she is working on projects related to the implementation of managed care in the Medicaid programs of Georgia and Alabama.

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