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Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Jessica Willoughby

  1. Associate Professor
LocationGoertzen Hall 208



Dr. Willoughby earned her PhD and an interdisciplinary health communication certificate at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and her MA and BA in the Murrow College at Washington State University. She enjoys spending time outdoors, especially camping around Washington state, with her family and dog. She also enjoys DIY projects, and just like camping, likes to look at them as an adventure (sometimes, they don’t quite turn out as planned). Prior to joining the Murrow College, Dr. Willoughby conducted health communication work with an international research organization, a nonprofit, and a department of health. Her hobbies include reading, running, the occasional sprint triathlon, and craft projects.

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.

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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