Research Publication Roundup: February 2019

A vibrant and collaborative interdisciplinary research culture at the UNC School of Media and Journalism creates new knowledge, advances scholarship and helps reinvent media. Below is a list of recently published or presented scholarship by MJ-school faculty and students.



Jin, Y., Austin, L., Vijaykumar, S., Jun, H., & Nowak, G. (2018). Communicating about infectious disease threats: Insights from public health information officers. Public Relations Review. Online ahead of print at:

The public health communication challenges that arise in times of infectious disease threats (IDTs) were examined using the Risk Amplification through Media Spread (RAMS) Framework and in-depth phone interviews with 40 national, state, and local public health information officers (PIOs). Interviewees shared their experiences and insights with researchers, related to how IDTs are communicated to the public, including the different types of traditional and social media used, how they develop and assess IDT messages and their perceptions regarding the IDT risk amplification process. Researchers found that different types of infectious diseases prompt the need for communication in different ways, that there are many structural and institutional issues affecting the performance and effectiveness of IDT communication, that infectious disease threat messages, materials, and recommendations sent by PIOs need to be trusted in news media engagement, and that PIOs and health agencies need to strategically integrate traditional, social, and online media in doing infectious disease communication.


Correa, T., Reyes, M., Taillie, L., & Carpentier, F. (2018). The prevalence and audience reach of food and beverage advertising on Chilean television according to marketing tactics and nutritional quality of products. Public Health Nutrition, 1-12.

In the light of Chile’s comprehensive new restriction on unhealthy food marketing, the researchers analyzed food advertising on Chilean television prior to the first and final phases of implementation of the restriction. A content analysis was conducted of the marketing strategies of 6976 advertisements, based on products’ nutritional quality and child audience reached using television ratings data. Food ads represented 16 % of all advertising; 34 % of food ads featured a product high in energy, saturated fats, sugars and/or salt (HEFSS), as defined by the initial regulation. HEFSS ads were seen by more children and contained more child-directed marketing strategies than ads without HEFSS foods. If HEFSS advertising was restricted only in programs where 20 % are children aged 4–12 years, 31 % of children’s and 8 % of the general audience’s HEFSS advertising exposure would be reduced. HEFSS advertising was seen by a large proportion of children before Chile’s regulation. Chile’s first implementation based on audience composition should reduce a third of this exposure and its second restriction across the television day should eliminate most of the exposure. The current study is a crucial first step in evaluating how Chile’s regulation efforts will impact children’s diets and obesity prevalence.


Kowitt, S., Lazard, A., Queen, T., Noar, S., & Goldstein, A. (2018). Adolescents’ aided recall of targeted and non-targeted tobacco communication campaigns in the United States. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(11), 2363.

Researchers examined whether advertisements from two national tobacco control campaigns targeting adolescents (i.e., The Real Cost, Fresh Empire) and one campaign targeting adults (i.e., Tips from Former Smokers) were reaching adolescents. Data came from a national sample of adolescents aged 13 to 17 years (n = 975). The researchers assessed recall and attitudes toward five specific advertisements and three campaign slogans and examined differences by sub-groups. Almost all (95%) adolescents recalled seeing at least one campaign advertisement. Aided recall of The Real Cost and Tips from Former Smokers slogans was high (65.5% and 71.6%, respectively), while aided recall of Fresh Empire slogan was lower (15.3%); however, Black adolescents had higher odds of recalling the Fresh Empire ad and slogan compared to White adolescents. Increased exposure to the advertisements (i.e., recalling more advertisements) was significantly associated with higher odds of reporting negative feelings toward tobacco products. Large-scale national campaigns can have wide reach among both targeted and non-targeted audiences with added benefits for cumulative cross-campaign exposure to advertisements.


Francis, D., Stevens, E., Noar, S., & Widman, L. (2018). Public Reactions to and impact of celebrity health announcements: Understanding the Charlie Sheen effect. Howard Journal of Communications, 1-16.

Charlie Sheen, a popular actor, disclosed his HIV positive status on national television in November 2015. The purpose of this study was to examine reactions to and impact of Sheen’s HIV disclosure, specifically empathetic reactions, public engagement (information seeking, interpersonal communication, information sharing), and HIV testing intentions. The researchers surveyed 751 adults about 2 months after Sheen’s disclosure and found high exposure to the announcement as well as information seeking, interpersonal communication, and information sharing about HIV. They found significant demographic differences in engagement with Sheen’s disclosure, with African Americans more likely to seek information and engage in conversations. Interpersonal communication mediated the relationship between empathy and HIV testing intentions. Public figure announcements, when widely-reported like that of Sheen, offer compelling health communication opportunities to inform and educate the public about disease and produce changes in public engagement that may impact behavioral intentions and ultimately behavior.


Viera, A., Gizlice, Z., Tuttle, L., Olsson, E., Gras-Najjar, J., Hales, D., Linnan, L., Lin, F., Noar, S., & Ammerman, A. (2019). Effect of calories-only vs. physical activity calorie expenditure labeling on lunch calories purchased in worksite cafeterias. BMC Public Health, 19(107), 1-7.

Calorie labeling on restaurant menus is a public health strategy to guide consumer ordering behaviors, but effects on calories purchased have been minimal. Displaying labels communicating the physical activity required to burn calories may be a more effective approach, but real-world comparisons are needed. In a quasi-experimental study, researchers examined the effect of physical activity calorie expenditure (PACE) food labels compared to calorie-only labels on point-of-decision food purchasing in three worksite cafeterias in North Carolina. After a year of quarterly baseline data collection, one cafeteria prominently displayed PACE labels, and two cafeterias prominently displayed calorie-only labels. Calories from foods purchased in the cafeteria during lunch were assessed over 2 weeks every 3 months for 2 years by photographs of meals. Researchers compared differences in purchased calorie estimates before and after the labeling intervention was introduced comparing average meal calories after vs before labeling. Participants exposed to PACE labels purchased 40.4 fewer calories, and participants exposed to calorie-only labels purchased 38.2 fewer calories. The small difference of 2 fewer calories purchased among participants exposed to PACE labeling vs. calorie-only labeling was not significant. In this workplace cafeteria setting, PACE labeling was no more effective than calorie-only labeling in reducing lunchtime calories purchased.



9th Annual International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference (ICRCC)
March 11-19, 2019 | Orlando, Florida

Austin, L., Cameron, G., Harrigan, M., Jin, Y., Sellnow, T., & van der Meer, T. (2019, March). A framework for understanding misinformation and rumor: Analysis of social media crises and misinformation characteristics. Paper to be presented at the International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference, Orlando, Florida.

Lu, X., Jin, Y., Eaddy, L., Austin, L., Liu, B., & van der Meer, T. (2019, March). Crisis information vetting in social-mediated crisis and risk communication: A conceptual framework. Paper to be presented at the International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference, Orlando, Florida.


18th Annual Meeting of the Sociedad Latinoamericana de Nutrición (Latin American Society of Nutrition)
November 10-15, 2018 | Guadalajara, Mexico

Dillman Carpentier, F. R. (2018, November). Invited presentation on Comparación de promoción de alimentos poco saludables en televisión y exposición de niños a esta promoción antes y despues de la implementación de la Ley Chilena de Etiquetado y Marketing [Comparison of unhealthy food advertising on television and children’s exposure to this advertising before and after the implementation of the Chilean Food Labeling and Marketing Law] as part of the symposium on the Evaluation of the Chilean Law of Food Labeling and Marketing at the annual meeting of the Sociedad Latinoamericana de Nutrición (Latin American Society of Nutrition), Guadalajara, Mexico.


University of Illinois Online Health Communication Conference
Feb. 25 - March 1, 2019

Gray, J. (2019, February/March). The significant entertainment narrative experience within the lived experiences of the body-shamed. Paper to be presented at the University of Illinois Online Health Communication Conference, held online.


2019 D.C. Health Communication (DCHC) Conference
April 26-27, 2019 | Washington, D.C.

Adams, E., Kavlie, J., Hursting, L., & Comello, N. (2019, April) Patient catharsis or health care brand capital? Authenticity, voice, and control in branded health care narratives.  Paper to be presented at the D.C. Health Communication Conference, Washington, D.C.

Hursting, L., & Comello, N. (2019, April) How to tell a story: Health narrative constructs and entertainment industry guidance. Poster to be presented at the D.C. Health Communication Conference, Washington, D.C.