Department of Public Relations
I’m married to my college sweetheart. We have one amazing daughter who is a toddler and full of energy and joy. I enjoy fishing, hiking, reading, and binge-watching my favorite shows during school holidays.
My research agenda focuses on the intersection of communication, persuasion, and health behavior theories. I have two complimentary streams of research:
- Theory-based health communication campaign design and evaluation.
- Individual message processing and effects, specifically related to health outcomes and narrative examples.
I enjoy working on health communication campaigns because these projects provide a bridge between research and application. My lab-based research investigates the effects of exposure to mass media on health-related beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Although much research has examined the harmful effects of popular media on health behaviors, I have explored the possibility that media may also positively influence health, especially when health messages are embedded within an engaging story or testimonial. My principal topical focus is sexual health among adolescents, although I have also studied health messages about tobacco, HPV vaccination, nutrition, diabetes, and eating disorders. I often approach research questions from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws from communication, public health, social psychology, and consumer behavior.
Main Methodological Approaches
I’m comfortable using a variety of methods, which method I use is mostly driven by my research questions. I most often find myself conducting experiments, focus groups, interviews, and content analyses.
- Ph.D., Mass Communications, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
- Graduate Certificate, Interdisciplinary Health Communication, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
- M.A., Public Relations, Washington State University
- B.A., Communication/Political Science, Washington State University
Graduate Courses Taught
- Health Communication Seminar
- Mass Communication Theory
My professional background is in public relations and political communications. I have worked as a political campaign manager, field director, and state legislative aide. Recently, I helped develop and evaluate two social marketing campaigns focusing on preventing cervical cancer and easing caregiver burden for parents of children with eating disorders.
Publications in Last Five Years
- 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, 19(5), 593-608.
- Bobkowski, P. & Shafer, A. (2014). The digital bridge into adulthood: Media uses and effects in adolescence. In J.F. NussBaum (Ed.),
The Handbook of Lifespan Communication. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
- Shafer, A., Bobkowski, P., & Brown, J.D. (2012). Sexual media practice: How adolescents select, engage with, and are affected by sexual media. In K. Dill (Ed.),
The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Johnston, A., Friedman, B., & Shafer, A. (2012). Framing the problem of sex trafficking: Whose problem? What remedy? Feminist Media Studies, 11 Dec.
- Cates, J.R., Ortiz, R.R., Shafer, A., Romocki, L.S., & 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.
- Johnston, A., Friedman, B., & Shafer, A. (2012). What’s the problem and what can we do about it? Mass media explain the global sex trade. In T. Carilli and J. Campbell (Eds.), Challenging Images of Women in the Media: Reinventing Women’s Lives. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
- 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.
- Cates, J.R., Shafer, A., Diehl, S.J., & Deal, A. (2011). Evaluating a county-sponsored social marketing campaign to increase mothers’ initiation of HPV vaccine for their pre-teen daughters in a primarily rural area. Social Marketing Quarterly, 17(1), 4-26.
- Patel, S. & Shafer, A., Zucker, N.L., & Bulik, C.M. (2011). Caring for yourself is caring for your child: Helping parents of children with eating disorders receive health care for themselves. In M. Brann (Ed.), Contemporary Case Studies in Health Communication: Theoretical and Applied Approaches. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.
- Zucker, N.L., Loeb, K.L., Patel, S., & Shafer, A. (2011). Parent groups in the treatment of eating disorders. In D.L. Grange and J. Lock (Eds.), Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Clinical Handbook. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
- Cates, J.R., Shafer, A., Dillman Carpentier, F., Reiter, P.L., Brewer, N.T., McRee, A., & Smith, J.S. (2010). How parents hear about HPV vaccine: Implications for uptake. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47, 309-311.
- Reiter, P.L., Cates, J.R., McRee, A., Gottlieb, S., Shafer, A., Smith, J.S., & Brewer, N.T. (2010). Statewide HPV vaccine initiation among adolescent females in North Carolina. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 37(9), 549-556.