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Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Jessica Willoughby

  1. Associate Professor
LocationGoertzen Hall 208

Biography

Biography

Dr. Willoughby’s conducts rigorous, theoretically-grounded health communication research that contributes to health communication practice. Her research has resulted in more than 70 peer reviewed journal articles and multiple grants and contracts. She is an expert in the development of theoretically grounded risk reduction health communication interventions for adolescents and young adults, having developed and assessed more than a dozen health communication interventions on topics including sexual health, substance misuse prevention, physical activity, mental health and COVID-19. Her research in this area focuses on how media, including digital media, can have a positive impact on health. She also has expertise in media effects on adolescent and young adult health, often approaching this research with a prevention lens and using the work to inform her understanding of when and where intervention efforts may be most useful.

Dr. Willoughby takes an interdisciplinary approach to health communication, drawing from the communication, psychology, health behavior and public health disciplines. She is especially interested in conducting research that has a positive impact on participants and the community. She has collaborated on several projects that have effectively used theory to benefit the health of adolescents and young adults. For such work, she has received awards including the Science Matters award from the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (now SHIFT NC) and the Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Award from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Education

  • BA, Communication, Washington State University
  • MA, Communication, Washington State University
  • PhD, Mass Communication, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Interdisciplinary Health Communication Certification, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Classes Taught

  • COMSTRAT 380 – Advertising Principles and Practices
  • COMSTRAT 477 – Message Design for Communication
  • COMSTRAT 312 – Principles of Public Relations
  • COM 478 – Health Communication
  • COM 482 – Computer Mediated Communication
  • COM 516 – Health Communication and Society
  • COM 564 – Research Methods for Professionals
  • COM 580 – Topics in Communication: Mixed Methods
  • COM 599 – Topics in Communication: Professional Development
  • COM 580 – Topics in Communication: Health and Adolescents
  • COMHLTH 571 – Communicating Health in Practice
  • COMSTRAT 565 – Professional Marketing Communication Management and Campaigns

Awards

  • 2022, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Mass
    Communication and Society Division Professional Freedom and Responsibility
    award; recognizes excellence in research, teaching or service related to professional
    freedom and responsibility.
  • 2016, Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Outstanding Woman Junior Scholar Award,
    Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Commission on
    the Status of Women

Teaching Interests

  • Health communication
  • Strategic communication
  • Message design and effectiveness
  • Research methods/mixed methods research

Research Interests

  • Health communication
  • Media and health promotion
  • Mobile health (mHealth)
  • Electronic health (eHealth)
  • Social media
  • Adolescents and young adults

Research Program

Dr. Willoughby’s research focuses on how media, including digital media, can have a positive impact on health. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to health communication, drawing from the communication, psychology, health behavior and public health disciplines. She is especially interested in conducting research that has a positive impact on participants and the community. She has collaborated on a number of projects that have effectively used theory to benefit the health of adolescents and young adults. For such work, she has received awards including the Science Matters award from the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (now SHIFT NC) and the Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Award from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Her two research tracks focus on: (1) the potential for communication strategies to improve adolescent and young adult health, and (2) the processes through which media impacts health outcomes as a precursor to intervention. She is experienced in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research.

Research Collaboration

Dr. Willoughby is involved in a number of research collaborations with others in academia as well as community partners, including at WSU. Through her research and service Dr. Willoughby aims to apply research for health promotion efforts to benefit the health of populations, often with a focus on adolescents and young adults. She is presently a member of the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States Committee. She is also a member of the leadership team for the Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Selected Publications

Selected publications represent a small sample of research. Additional sample publications are available upon request. Please contact faculty member to discuss most recent research work or you can see Dr. Willoughby’s Google Scholar profile.

Download CV

Willoughby, J. F., Hust, S. J. T., Li, J.*, Couto, L.*, Kang, S.*, & Domgaard, S.* (2020). An exploratory study of adolescents’ social media sharing of marijuana-related content. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, OnlineFirst.

Willoughby, J. F. & Brickman, J.* (2020). Adding to the message testing tool belt: Assessing the feasibility and acceptability of an EMA-style, mobile approach for mHealth interventions. Health Communication, OnlineFirst.

Willoughby, J. F., Niu, Z.*, & Liu, S.* (2018). Assessing the potential use of narrative and the entertainment education strategy in an mHealth text message intervention. Journal of Health Communication, 23, 20-27.

Willoughby, J. F. & Liu, S.* (2018). Do pictures help tell the story? An experimental test of narrative and emojis in a health text message intervention. Computers in Human Behavior, 79, 75-82.

Willoughby, J. F., L’Engle, K. L., Jackson, K., & Brickman, J.* (2018). Using text message surveys to evaluate a mobile sexual health question-and-answer service. Health Promotion Practice, 19, 103-109.

Willoughby, J. F. & Muldrow, A.* (2017). SMS for sexual health: A comparison of sexual health text message service types and recommendations for service providers. Health Education Journal, 76, 231-243.

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