Research in Health Communication


*** Just released in January 2013: Graphic warnings on cigarettes effective across demographic groups. 


Center for Community-Based Research

CCBR at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute develops innovative ways to lower cancer risk by working with community groups and organizations. The Center uses the power of the community to study factors that play a role in improving prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer.

Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at HSPH

The HPRC is one of 33 Prevention Research Centers funded by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Center’s mission is to work with community partners to design, implement, and evaluate programs that improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce overweight and reduce chronic disease risk among children and youth. HPRC projects involve community partners in every phase, from brainstorming to evaluation. Long-term goals are to build community capacity to implement and evaluate effective prevention programs and to advance national knowledge regarding interventions that promote nutrition and physical activity.

Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, and HSPH

The Center is dedicated to understanding and responding to the effects of media on the physical, mental, and social health of children through research, production, and education.

Viswanath Lab 

Based in Dana Farber’s Center for Community Based Research, the Viswanath Lab focuses on examining and defining the role of communication across the cancer continuum — from prevention and detection, to diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Our group has a particular interest in how inequalities in the distribution of communication resources and channels relate to health disparities.

Center for Health Communication at HSPH

The Center for Health Communication has helped pioneer the field of mass communication and public health by researching and analyzing the contributions of mass communication to behavior change and policy, by preparing future health leaders to utilize communication strategies, and by strengthening communication between journalists and health professionals.  Projects at the Center include the Harvard Alcohol Project, which helped introduce the designated driver concept to the U.S.; Squash It! Campaign to Prevent Youth Violence; Harvard Mentoring Project; and HSPH-MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement.

Health Literacy Studies at HSPH

Health Literacy Studies is located in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH and is part of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. The group is engaged in a variety of research and implementation studies focused on communication and literacy skills to explore the pathways from education to health outcomes, to determine literacy-related barriers to a variety of health services and care, and to identify skills needed to access care, manage chronic diseases, and participate in disease prevention activities.

Selected Research Papers

• Bennett GG, Wolin KY, Viswanath K, Askew S, Puleo E, Emmons KM. Television viewing and pedometer-determined physical activity among multiethnic residents of low-income housing. Am J Public Health. 2006 Sep;96(9):1681-5. Epub 2006 Jul 27.

• Viswanath K, Randolph Steele W, Finnegan JR Jr. Social capital and health: civic engagement, community size, and recall of health messages. Am J Public Health. 2006 Aug;96(8):1456-61. Epub 2006 Jun 29.

• Viswanath K, Breen N, Meissner H, Moser RP, Hesse B, Steele WR, Rakowski W. Cancer knowledge and disparities in the information age. J Health Commun. 2006;11 Suppl 1:1-17.

• Biener L, Reimer RL, Wakefield M, Szczypka G, Rigotti NA, Connolly G. Impact of smoking cessation aids and mass media among recent quitters. Am J Prev Med. 2006 Mar;30(3):217-24.

• Carpenter CM, Wayne GF, Pauly JL, Koh HK, Connolly GN. New cigarette brands with flavors that appeal to youth: tobacco marketing strategies. Health Aff (Millwood). 2005 Nov-Dec;24(6):1601-10.

• Koh HK, Judge CM, Robbins H, Celebucki CC, Walker DK, Connolly GN. The first decade of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program. Public Health Rep. 2005 Sep-Oct;120(5):482-95. Review.

• Emmons KM, Barbeau EM, Gutheil C, Stryker JE, Stoddard AM. Social Influences, Social Context, and Health Behaviors Among Working-Class, Multi-Ethnic Adults. Health Educ Behav. 2006 May 31

• Waters EA, Weinstein ND, Colditz GA, Emmons K. Formats for improving risk communication in medical tradeoff decisions. J Health Commun. 2006 Mar;11(2):167-82.

• Kaphingst KA, Zanfini CJ, Emmons KM. Accessibility of web sites containing colorectal cancer information to adults with limited literacy (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Mar;17(2):147-51.

• Gurmankin AD, Helweg-Larsen M, Armstrong K, Kimmel SE, Volpp KG. Comparing the standard rating scale and the magnifier scale for assessing risk perceptions. Med Decis Making. 2005 Sep-Oct;25(5):560-70.

• Gurmankin AD, Domchek S, Stopfer J, Fels C, Armstrong K. Patients’ resistance to risk information in genetic counseling for BRCA1/2. Arch Intern Med. 2005 Mar 14;165(5):523-9.

• Gurmankin AD, Baron J, Armstrong K. Intended message versus message received in hypothetical physician risk communications: exploring the gap. Risk Anal. 2004 Oct;24(5):1337-47.

• Moore GS, Perlow A, Judge C, Koh H. Using blended learning in training the public health workforce in emergency preparedness. Public Health Rep. 2006 Mar-Apr;121(2):217-21.

• Koh HK, Shei AC, Bataringaya J, Burstein J, Biddinger PD, Crowther MS, Serino RA, Cohen BR, Nick GA, Leary MC, Judge CM, Campbell PH, Brinsfield KH, Auerbach J. Building community-based surge capacity through a public health and academic collaboration: the role of community health centers. Public Health Rep. 2006 Mar-Apr;121(2):211-6.

• Rudd RE, Horowitz AM. Health and literacy: supporting the oral health research agenda. J Public Health Dent. 2005 Summer;65(3):131-2.

• Rudd R, Horowitz AM. The role of health literacy in achieving oral health for elders. J Dent Educ. 2005 Sep;69(9):1018-21.

• Kaphingst KA, DeJong W, Rudd RE, Daltroy LH. A content analysis of direct-to-consumer television prescription drug advertisements. J Health Commun. 2004 Nov-Dec;9(6):515-28.

• Rudd RE, Kaphingst K, Colton T, Gregoire J, Hyde J. Rewriting public health information in plain language.J Health Commun. 2004 May-Jun;9(3):195-206.

• Thompson KM, Tepichin K, Haninger K. Content and ratings of mature-rated video games. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Apr;160(4):402-10.

• Thompson KM. Addicted media: substances on screen. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2005 Jul;14(3):473-89, ix. Review.]

• Thompson KM, Yokota F. Free in PMC Violence, sex and profanity in films: correlation of movie ratings with content. MedGenMed. 2004 Jul 12;6(3):3.

• DeJong W, Winsten JA. The use of designated drivers by US college students: a national study. J Am Coll Health. 1999 Jan;47(4):151-6.

• Winsten JA. Promoting designated drivers: the Harvard Alcohol Project. Am J Prev Med. 1994 May-Jun;10(3 Suppl):11-4.