Health Communication Projects

A key part of health and wellness promotion, health communication involves communicating for the purposes of awareness, information, and/or persuasion, with specific audiences. For example, health communication can raise awareness about health issues, motivate people to make personal behavior changes and industry or government officials to introduce, strengthen, or enforce health-promoting or social policies.

Since 2011, Dr. Ameena Batada and UNCA students have worked on health communication research projects, focusing on food, community health promotion, and policy change/advocacy. Read more about our projects below and consider joining one of our teams or starting your own project!

Communicating about Food

In 2013, we contracted with the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to conduct Exploring Food, a research project to develop messages around healthy eating for food decisionmakers from communities of lower wealth. Avery Artman (’12) and Kevin Rumley (’13) were the project’s coordinators and Susannah Crawford (’14) conducted pre-testing for her public service project toward UNCA’s Community Engaged Scholar distinction.

Several of our projects have focused on food marketing to children, including a 2012 assessment of the nutritional quality of children’s meals at top U.S. restaurant chains (with students Alexandra Goode ’12 and Lauren Flewelling ’13) and a 2014 assessment of the prevalence of artificial food colors in grocery store products marketed to children (with students Kelly Miller ’15, Kennett Melgar ’15, Jennifer Roberts ’14 and Melissa Allen ’15).

In 2015, a team of students (Kelsey Palmer ’15, Ella Ferguson ’17, Jess Young ’16, Luke Walker ’15, Maddi Meglic ’17 and Mo Hakala ’17) worked on the Asheville- Buncombe Fresh Foods Project. The project tests the effectiveness of changing the placement of fresh fruit and vegetables (to closer to the front) and posters promoting fruit and vegetables in local public school cafeterias lines.

Communicating with Communities

Community-based health communication plays an important role in promoting the health. Since 2011, we have worked with the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA) to conduct research to understand the motivators and behaviors to healthy living, as well as the health conditions and behaviors of African American populations in the Asheville area. Through the Preventive Health Education Resulting in Action Inspiring Success for Everyone (PRAISE) Project, started in 2014, Dr. Batada and students from community health courses and research assistants (Amina Kone '17, Karmen Kurtz ’17, Morgan Dickie ’16, and Tongai Kwambe ’16) provide evaluation research assistants for a health communication and promotion intervention in predominantly African American churches in the Asheville area.