Health Communication Research Cluster

Communication—whether it’s between doctors and nurses, patients and health care providers, or health care organizations and the public—is essential to improving health care. College of Media & Communication faculty bring considerable insights and experience to bear in making healthinterventions more effective, crafting persuasive health campaigns, or improving communication among medical personnel.


Liz Gardner, Assistant Professor

Liz Gardner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Dr. Gardner's research focuses on strategic health communication, primarily health message design and resistance to persuasion, with the goal of designing communication to help underserved populations make smarter health decisions. She also studies applications of public relations in health-focused and nonprofit contexts and has professional PR experience with hospitals, the CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.

Contact: liz.gardner@ttu.edu

Sample Publications

Seltzer, T., Gardner, E., Bichard, S., & Callison, C. (2012). PR in the ER: Managing internal organization–public relationships in a hospital emergency department. Public Relations Review, 38(1), 128-136.

Sweeney, L., Warren, O., Gardner, L., Rojek, A., & Lindquist, D. (2013). A simulation-based training program improves emergency department staff’s communication. American Journal of Medical Quality, PMID: 23880775.

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Jo Ann Grant, Professor of Practice

Jo Ann Grant, Professor of Practice

During her career, Professor Grant has worked extensively in strategic marketing communication. Her work has included product awareness campaigns garnering awareness percentage changes of 25 percent and more and development of marketing campaigns for public health issues, as well as strategic product line campaigns. While at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, Professor Grant launched the Children's Miracle Network, a new nonprofit organization in a community with 200 plus nonprofits. Her work included establishment of strategic messaging for target markets, development of donor, employee and volunteer bases and development and execution of major special events. In the organization's first year, CMN raised more than $1.2 million.

At the Health Sciences Center, Professor Grant managed the execution of a major branding project for Texas Tech Physicians across four West Texas markets. The project included market research, message strategy, brand identity, staff education and a website launch.

Contact: jo.grant@ttu.edu

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Andy King, Assistant Professor

Andy King, Assistant Professor

Dr. King’s research focuses on health communication campaigns, public health communication, visual persuasion, and social influence.

Contact: andy.king@ttu.edu

Sample Publications

King, A. J., Williams, E. A., Harrison, T. R., Morgan, S. E., & Havermahl, T. (2012). The “Tell Us Now” campaign for organ donation: Using message immediacy to increase donor registration rates. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 40,229-246.

King, A. J., Gehl, R. W., Grossman, D., & Jensen, J. D. (2013). Skin self-examinations and visual identification of atypical nevi: Comparing individual and crowdsourcing approaches. Cancer Epidemiology, 37, 979-984.

Jensen, J. D., King, A. J., Carcioppolo, N., Krakow, M., Samadder, N. J., & Morgan, S. E. (2014). Comparing tailored and narrative worksite interventions at increasing colonoscopy adherence in adults 50-75: A randomized controlled trial. Social Science & Medicine, 104, 31-40.

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Rebecca R. Ortiz, Assistant Professor

Rebecca Ortiz, Assistant Professor

Dr. Ortiz’s research is focused in the areas of health communication, social marketing, and entertainment media effects. Her work largely examines adolescent and young adult populations and sexual health issues, such as HPV vaccination and sexual assault prevention.

Contact: rebecca.r.ortiz@ttu.edu

Sample Publications

Cates, J., Ortiz, R.R., Shafer, A., Romocki, L., & Coyne-Beasley, T. (2012). HPV vaccine for males: Designing messages to motivate parents to vaccinate their pre-teen sons. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 44(1), 39-47.

Ortiz, R.R., & Brooks, M.E. (2014). Getting what they deserve? Consequences of sexual expression by central characters in five popular television teen dramas in the United States. Journal of Children & Media, 8(1), 40-52.

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Eric Rasmussen, Assistant Professor

Eric Rasmussen, Assistant Professor

Dr. Rasmussen’s research explores media effects on children and parents’ role in altering those effects, and media and mental health. He is specifically interested in parental mediation and why/how parent-child conversations about the media influence children at different developmental stages in various ways.

Contact: eric.rasmussen@ttu.edu

Sample Publication

Rasmussen, E.E. & Ewoldsen, D.R. (2013) Dr. Phil and Psychology Today as self-help treatments of mental illness: A content analysis of popular psychology programming. Journal of Health Communication.

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Melanie Sarge, Assistant Professor

Melanie Sarge, Assistant Professor

Dr. Sarge’s research examines how people seek and select health and science information. Specifically, she considers how personal and message factors impact selective exposure, cognitive processing, and the likelihood that selected information will have a lasting influence.

Contact: m.sarge@ttu.edu

Sample Publications

Sarge, M. A. & Knobloch-Westerwick, S. (2013). Impacts of efficacy and exemplification in an online message about weight loss on weight management self-efficacy, satisfaction and personal importance. Journal of Health Communication, 18, 827-844.

Krieger, J. L., & Sarge, M. A. (2013). A serial mediation model of message framing on intentions to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine: Revisiting the role of threat and efficacy perceptions. Health Communication, 28(1), 5-19.

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Autumn Shafer, Assistant Professor

Autumn Shafer, Assistant Professor

Dr. Shafer studies theory-based health communication campaign design and evaluation, and individual message processing and effects, specifically related to entertainment-education and narratives. Her principal topical focus is sexual health among adolescents, although she has also studied health messages about tobacco, HPV vaccination, obesity, and eating disorders.

Contact: autumn.shafer@ttu.edu

Sample Publication

Shafer, A., Cates, J.R., Diehl, S.J., & Hartmann, M. (2011). Asking Mom: Formative research for an HPV vaccine campaign targeting mothers of adolescent girls. Journal of Health Communication, 16, 988-1005.

Patel, S., Shafer, A., Bulik, C.M., Brown, J.D., & Zucker, N.L. (2014). Parents of children with eating disorders: Developing theory-based health communication messages to promote caregiver wellbeing. Journal of Health Communication.

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