Evaluating the Effectiveness of Targeted Health Communication for Minoritized Groups
My research program focuses on understanding psychosocial mechanisms that can perpetuate health disparities. In this work, I investigate how social identities (e.g., race and weight status) shape engagement with health information and health programs, focusing primarily on mechanisms that can impede health promotion efforts for members of minoritized groups. Moreover, this work is interdisciplinary and involves collaboration with colleagues in Clinical Psychology, Health Communication, Public Health, and Medicine. I currently examine the consequences of information targeting – an intervention where health information is disseminated specifically to high-risk audiences to increase information accessibility and motivate behavior change. Although targeting can be beneficial, my research suggests that targeting health information based on minoritized identities (e.g., being Black American or having a higher body weight) can produce unintended negative consequences, including making recipients feel stereotyped and unfairly judged, that can have potentially detrimental effects on patients’ health. In ongoing research, I am developing more effective messaging interventions that can mitigate perceptions of being unfairly judged in response to targeting and increase uptake of health behavior. The overall goal of this work is to help clinicians more effectively convey risk and acknowledge social identities in a way that does not stigmatize patients.