The Murrow Center for Media & Health Promotion in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University develops and evaluates health communication campaign strategies that make flexible use of a full range of media platforms to affect social development and quality of life. Projects funded by federal, state and private grants support graduate and undergraduate student involvement in campaign planning and research. Center faculty are top-ranked nationally by ComVista for research on advertising effects, substance abuse prevention and media literacy.
Overall Focus: The Role of Media in Health Promotion for Young People
The Murrow Center for Media & Health Promotion examines how young people use media messages in their decisions about health, and how health promotion practitioners can maximize the effectiveness of health messages targeting young people and their families. Our work is intended to help individuals and health professionals use media most effectively to facilitate informed and healthy decisions.
Media effects and prevention strategies regarding alcohol abuse
More than 65% of American high school seniors have used alcohol; more than 32% have used it by eighth grade. Meanwhile, youth see far more alcohol ads than adults do, and youth in areas with heavier exposure to alcohol advertising are more likely to initiate and increase alcohol use. Our research has examined the role of logic and emotion in young people’s use of media messages to make decisions about alcohol use. For example, we have found that youth are more likely to respond to problematic content in alcohol ads than adults are to notice it. We have found that media literacy education messages can make children and adolescents less susceptible to alluring messages.
Media effects and prevention strategies regarding tobacco use prevention
Most new smokers are children and teenagers, and tobacco marketing messages often have particular appeal among young people. Our team has evaluated the effectiveness of public service announcements developed by the Department of Health for the prevention of tobacco use among adolescents. We also have evaluated media literacy as a catalyst for prevention education among young people.
Use of media in sex education and the prevention of sexual assault
It is estimated that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease and that this figure is as high as 40% among those who are sexually active. Center faculty have compared informational and entertainment-based strategies as vehicles for the prevention of sexual assault on the college campus. We also have examined the ways adolescents respond to media literacy-based sex education curricula.
The role of parent-child communication in media effects and health promotion
Parents often do not realize how important they are as a supplement and counter-influence to media messages. They also may not realize that the best conversations about media may happen when the television is off. Our research has examined the role of coviewing and discussion of media, as well as parental communication styles, particularly with regard to alcohol use prevention.
The role of media in obesity prevention and family nutrition decisions
Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years. Children’s exposure to television food marketing often is cited as a contributing cause. Our team is pursuing studies that will inform media campaigns about nutrition and media literacy education. This work is designed to help families support healthier eating by using media as a catalyst for learning about nutrition and obesity prevention.
Recent & Related Projects
- Adolescent and Young Adult Responses to Television Ads for Alcoholic Beverages: A Receiver-Oriented Message Analysis (Hindman, Austin, Pinkleton & Hust). Funding agency: Washington State Initiative Measure No. 171 for medical and biological research, Washington State University Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program. Lead RAs: Marie Louise Radanielina-Hita and Masahiro Yamamoto.
- Alcohol and substance abuse prevention (Austin). Funding agency: Washington Department of Social and Health Services.
- Evaluation of communication and marketing efforts undertaken in conjunction with a project providing family support programs, workforce development, and child care and youth development expansion needs of the Department of Defense to support military youth, families and communities as well as non-military audiences (Austin & Pinkleton). Funding Agency: United State Department of Agriculture.
- Evaluation of marketing efforts to support military youth, families and communities (Austin & Pinkleton). Funding agency: Department of Defense/United States Department of Agriculture.
- Washington State SYNAR Coverage Study (Hust, Hindman & Yan). Funding Agency: Washington State Division of Behavioral Health & Recovery. Lead RA: Abbie Vancil.
- WSU Climate Grant: The development of entertainment-education materials to educate college journalists about the neurobiology of addiction (Hust, Kelly, Barbosa-Leiker & Adams). Funding Agency: Washington State University. Lead RA: Ming Lei.
- Multi-faceted communication strategies to promote healthy eating for chronic disease prevention among individuals and families (Austin, Pinkleton & Yan). Funding agency: Chronic Illness Research Center, WSU. Lead RAs: Weina Ran and Marie Louise Radanielina-Hita.
- Ambiguous advertisements: Effects on beliefs and behavioral intentions related to alcohol consumption (Hust). Funding agency: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program, WSU. Lead RAs: Jessica Fitts and Weina Ran.
- Campus campaign against sexual assault (Hust). Funding agency: United States Department of Education. Lead RA: Chunbo Ren.
- Evaluation of a media literacy program to reduce adolescent sexual activity (Austin & Pinkleton). Funding agency: Washington State Department of Health. Lead RA: Ming Lei.
- Evaluation of a media literacy intervention for tobacco use prevention among adolescents (Austin & Pinkleton). Funding agency: American Legacy Foundation, via the Washington State Department of Health.
- Media advocacy experiment testing editorials in framing adolescent marijuana use as a societal problem (Hust). Funding agency: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program, WSU. Project has been completed.
- Development and evaluation of a media campaign to reduce adolescent tobacco use (Austin & Pinkleton). Funding agency: Washington State Department of Health. Project has been completed.
- Media framing of obesity: A content analysis of the New York Times coverage, 1985-2006 (Yan). Funding agency: Outreach Health Initiative Fund, Pennsylvania State University. Project has been completed.
- Experiment testing the effects of a greater awareness of self regulation of alcohol advertising on participants’ assessments of alcohol advertisement (Hust). Funding agency: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program, WSU. Project has been completed.
- SYNAR sample coverage study for tobacco (Hust & Austin). Funding agency: Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Project has been completed.
- Substance abuse prevention media literacy curriculum for elementary school students (Austin). Funding agency: National Institute on Drug Abuse. Project has been completed.
- Community readiness study regarding alcohol use issues (Hindman). Funding agency: Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Project has been completed.
- Evaluation of a CD-ROM program to prevent impaired driving (Austin & Pinkleton). Funding agency: Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation. Project has been completed.
- Pilot test of a CD-ROM-based program to prevent impaired driving (Austin & Pinkleton). Funding agency: Washington State Initiative Measure No. 171, for Medical and Biological Research, Washington State University Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Program. Project has been completed.
- Content analysis of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage advertising in print and video (Austin). Funding agency: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism. Project has been completed.
- Ideology and public opinion about health (Hindman).
- Adolescent and young adult responses to television ads and Web sites for alcoholic beverages (all center faculty).
- H1N1 Flu focus groups (Austin). Sponsoring agency: Washington Health Foundation. Project has been completed.
- H1N1 student survey (Austin), co-sponsored with the WSU Social and Economic Sciences Research Center. Project has been completed.
- Anti-tobacco campaign focus groups with adolescents and young adults (Austin & Pinkleton). Sponsoring agency: Washington State Department of Health. Project has been completed.
The Center has access to a unique combination of laboratory and media production facilities housed in The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication that position it to make major contributions to the study and professional applications of communication and decision making.
Lab facilities include:
- Interview suite
- Focus group lab
- Communication Emotion and Cognition Lab
- Media viewing lab (children’s lab)
- Survey research lab
Media production facilities include:
- TV editing suites
- Radio station and radio/audio labs
- TV studio
- News production/broadcast lab
- Public television stations in eastern Washington and available through satellite, cable and video streaming