Getting Help from 2-1-1: A Statewide Study of Referral Outcomes

Sonia Boyum, Matthew W. Kreuter, Amy McQueen, Tess Thompson, Regina Greer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: The 2-1-1 information and referral helpline connects economically vulnerable Americans with needed health and social services in their communities. This longitudinal study followed a random sample of 2-1-1 callers in Missouri (n = 1,235) to determine the results of the referrals they received. One month after calling 2-1-1, most remembered receiving (93%), tried contacting (91%), and reached (82%) at least one referral they received. Far fewer (36%) received assistance from the referral, ranging from 17% for housing assistance to 67% for food assistance. Callers receiving assistance were much more likely than those not receiving assistance to report at the one-month follow-up that their problem had been resolved (OR = 3.0, 95% CI = 2.2, 4.1), although this was less true among callers with multiple unmet basic needs. Findings explain how 2-1-1 helps callers resolve problems but also helps them identify missed opportunities in the current system. Future research could elucidate how 2-1-1 callers resolve problems; it could also find ways to improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged 2-1-1 callers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 26 2016


  • Basic needs
  • information and referral
  • material hardship
  • social services


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