Jo Anne L Earp

Jo Anne L Earp, ScD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Member and Professor of Health Behavior at UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Jo Anne L Earp

UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Prevention and Control

363 Rosenau Hall

Area of interest

Dr. Jo Anne Earp is a medical sociologist. In her research, she applies a behavioral science perspective to an understanding of the role that social and attitudinal factors play in explaining variation in health behaviors among groups of people, especially women. She has done research with both chronic and acutely ill patients, as well as with members of high-risk, often stigmatized or marginal groups (e.g., abused women, low literacy minorities). She is an expert in the design of data collection instruments, especially personal interviews with difficult-to-interview respondents. For more than 35 years she was principal or co-principal investigator on cancer-specific and STI-related grants, as well as many small grants on women's health and patient advocacy issues. She is principal investigator of Lineberger's cancer control education program (R25) training grant, now in its twenty-second year of funding and recently renewed for another five years. 

For ten years Dr. Earp was the principal investigator on a 3.3 million dollar NCI-funded study, the North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program (NC-BCSP). As PI, Dr. Earp directed the NC-BCSP team of university staff, students, and post-docs, community outreach specialists, and about 200 lay health advisors to achieve NC-BCSP's primary aims of closing the racial gap in breast cancer screening. A physician-training component, funded for six years by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, encouraged providers to use a stage-based counseling approach (Ask, Advise, Assist) when recommending mammograms. A cervical cancer screening initiative, funded by NC-BCSP's second of two three-year grants from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation, also allowed NC-BCSP to train more than fifty new lay health advisors and provide "booster sessions" to the original LHAs. More recently she translated the Trans Theoretical Model's Stages of Change theory into a physician decision aid for understanding a woman's barriers and quickly assessing her stage in the screening process. 

In 2003, Dr. Earp successfully turned NC-BCSP over to two community groups who were trained to continue supporting three counties of LHAs. A follow-up (2004) R21 grant from NCI allowed her to understand better why some NC-BCSP's counties were more successful than others in increasing the rate of African-Americans receiving screening. In 2011 NC-BCSP was designated a Research Tested Intervention Program (RTIP) by the NCI (

Dr. Earp teaches or has taught several department courses, including: HBEH 750 (Survey Research Methods in Health Education) for 12 years; the Professional Development Seminar unit for doctoral students (HBEH 812); Public Health Perspective on Women's Health (HBEH 160); Advanced Evaluation Research Methods (HBEH 853); HBEH 850, research manuscript preparation for advanced doctoral students; and directed HBEH 600, Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health, a core course for non-HB majors in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, from 1996-2003. Until 2012, she taught HBEH 727, Patient Advocacy: Healing the Health Care System, for graduate health affairs students in the Fall semester.

Awards and Honors

She received the McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching from UNC's School of Public Health in 1983, the Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award in 1996, and the John E. Larsh award for Mentorship in 2005.

In 2008 she was honored with the campus-wide UNC's Women's Leadership Council's Mentoring Award for her mentoring of students over the years.

Some years ago the Jo Anne L. Earp Fellowship in Health Behavior was established in her name.

She chaired the department of Health Behavior for more than 13 years, from 1996 to 2005 and then again from 2008 to 2012.

In 2012 she began a three-year period of phased retirement.

Link to Publications on Reach NC site

Find publications on Pubmed