The Health Communication Research Laboratory (HCRL) at Washington University in St. Louis specializes in developing and testing health communication programs. The HCRL is staffed by a team of experts in health communication, and in the application of behavioral science theory to health promotion interventions. Combined, we have over 25 years of experience in developing and testing health communication programs.
We have 5 distinct areas of expertise.
Developing tailored print communication programs
We have developed numerous print based tailored health communication programs covering dozens of topic areas from weight management for the general public, to hormone replacement therapy for women at risk for osteoporosis and heart disease, to safety management for construction work contractors. Our comprehensive understanding of the tailoring process makes it possible for us to work with professionals from within or outside our organization to develop tailoring programs in nearly any health-related topic area.
Developing health and behavioral surveys
The HCRL staff have extensive experience in questionnaire development and deployment. In order to assess individual characteristics upon which to tailor, a survey is an integral part of each tailored health communication program developed at the HCRL. Health behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs are measured for each tailoring program. Behavioral constructs such as motivation, self-efficacy, and barriers and benefits to changing behavior, may also be included in the assessment, depending upon the population and outcome of interest.
Designing and conducting health communication research trials
Since its inception, the HCRL has conducted multiple health communication research trials assessing the effectiveness of tailored vs. non-tailored health communication materials. Such studies have covered topic areas from smoking cessation to childhood immunization. We have consistently found tailored health communication materials to be more effective than non-tailored materials in promoting health behavior change. Scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of our work has been published in the scientific literature.
Developing non-tailored print communication
While we champion tailored health communication as the ideal, we also realize its limitations. When time, resources, or the ability to individually assess members of the target population is limited, developing a tailored health communication program may not be possible. The HCRL can and has developed non-tailored print communication of the highest quality.
Conducting formative research
In the process of developing both tailored and non-tailored health communication programs, we have employed numerous techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of our work among target populations, including pre-testing, focus group interviews, and cognitive response testing. We have become proficient in conducting such interviews, and in synthesizing and applying the results of this qualitative research.
If you are interested in collaborating with the HCRL to develop your health communication program, contact Nikki Caito at (314) 935-3706 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.