Center for Health Communication

Director: Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Frank Stanton Center Director and Associate Dean for Health Communication

A key challenge facing health professionals is to mobilize the power of mass communication to empower individuals to adopt healthy behaviors, to direct policy makers’ attention to important health issues, and to frame those issues for public debate and resolution. To address this challenge, 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.

New InitiativeRick Scott, Joe Sanchez

Preventing Distracted Driving

The Center has pioneered the development of health communication campaigns, starting 25 years ago when it launched the U.S. Designated Driver Campaign in collaboration with Hollywood studios and TV networks. The Center now is developing a U.S. campaign to prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from distracted driving. Dr. Jay Winsten and the developing campaign are mentioned in The New York Times. Read the article.

Putting the Breaks on Distracted DrivingJay Winsten

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Center’s newest initiative — a campaign to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by “distracted driving,” is the focus of The Big Three. Read Dr. Jay Winsten’s interview.

The Center in collaboration with The Huffington Post produced the month-long series “Road To Nowhere” to draw attention to the dangers of texting while driving and asked:
How We Can Begin To Curb The Distracted Driving Epidemic?



Presented by The Forum at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
in collaboration with The Huffington Post

The Honorable Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Jay Winsten, Frank Stanton Director of the Center for Health Communication at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Associate Dean for Health Communication
MODERATOR:  Lance Gould, Executive Special Projects Editor, The Huffington Post

Read The Huffington Post Op/Ed by Jay Winsten

Other Center Initiatives

driverThe Center’s best-known initiative, the Harvard Alcohol Project, demonstrated how a new social concept — the designated driver — could be rapidly introduced through mass communication, promoting a new social norm that the driver does not drink. The project represents the first large-scale effort to incorporate health messages within the dialogue of Hollywood scripts.


Nationachc-2013MentoringWorksl Mentoring Month, launched in January 2002, is an annual month-long campaign which includes a combination of national media, local media, and extensive community outreach.


Eat EnglishCOVERPageWell Stay Active Have Fun: A Guide for MentorsSpanishCOVERpage

Provides information and guidance on how to make healthy eating and physical activity natural parts of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Also available in Spanish.

“Squash It!” Campaign to Prevent Youth Violence, seeks to reinforce and validate chc-squashdecisions by young people to disengage from potentially violent confrontations, promote positive alternatives to violence, and empower young people by providing a platform to express their views on violence prevention.


Other Center projects involve exploring policy options to curb domestic violence; researching the use of cause-related marketing strategies for health promotion; using mass media strategies to improve early childhood immunization and to curb teen pregnancy; and examining the relationship between science, technology, and the media.

The Harvard Parenting Project consolidated and disseminated research findings about parenting issues on behalf of the media, policy makers, practitioners, advocates, educators, community leaders, and parents. The Project has produced two reports, Raising Teens (2001) and The Role of the Mass Media in Parenting Education (1997).

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health–MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement aims to change public attitudes toward aging and motivate baby boomers and retirees to engage in community service. Reinventing Aging: Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement, spotlights key issues that must be addressed to involve large numbers of boomers in strengthening community life.