Research Publication Roundup: November 2019

A vibrant and collaborative interdisciplinary research culture at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media creates new knowledge, advances scholarship and helps reinvent media.

UNC Hussman Assistant Professor Adam Saffer served as guest co-editor for a special November issue of Public Relations Review with Aimei Yang of the University of Southern California. The issue, titled, "Embracing the Network Paradigm: New Directions in Public Relations Research," features five original research articles that used network theories and methods to study a range of research topics in strategic communication research. The editors' introduction is listed below, along with a list of other recently published or presented scholarship by UNC Hussman faculty and students.


Brennen, J. S. ('18), Lazard, A., & Adams, E. (2019). Multi-model mental models: Understanding users’ design expectations for mHealth apps. Health Informatics Journal.

Beginning in the early days of the Web, scholars have observed that users hold shared "mental models" of digital content as reference points. Through 25 qualitative interviews with health app users, this research describes shared mental models for mHealth and reveals how they function. The findings indicate that users’ mental models are informed by experiences with apps from across the mobile landscape, and the researchers offer suggestions for designers of consumer mobile health apps.

Cates, J. (2019). HPV vaccination expected to reduce HPV-associated cancers and may lessen racial/ethnic disparities of cancer incidence. Journal of Adolescent Health, 65(6), 709-710.

This editorial describes the "public health success story" of the HPV vaccine, for which a landmark report on the vaccine's effectiveness in the U.S. shows declines in HPV infection and subsequent declines in HPV-related cancers from vaccination.

Guo, L., Rohde, J., & Farraye, F. A. (2019). Stigma and disclosure in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

Stigma in patients suffering from chronic disease is associated with worse clinical outcomes and secondary medical issues such as depression, anxiety and decreased quality of life. The researchers believe various forms of stigma can have different clinical effects for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and suggest these forms of stigma could be identified and targeted by researchers or clinicians to lessen patients' psychological burden. This review discusses public perceptions, knowledge and stigmatization of IBD, the prevalence of various forms of IBD stigma and the impact of stigma on patient outcomes, and highlights research areas for future IBD interventions.

Horrell, L., Lazard, A., Bhowmick, A., Hayes, S., Mees, S., & Valle, C. (2019). Attracting users to online health communities: Analysis of’s Facebook advertisement campaign data. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 21(11): e14421.

With more adults turning to the internet to get answers for health-related questions, online communities provide platforms to deliver health information and social support. However, these platforms must also market effectively to attract new members and promote community growth. This study assesses the engagement results of five weeklong Facebook advertisement campaigns designed to increase membership in the online community. This research demonstrates the feasibility of using Facebook advertising to promote and grow online health communities.

Kim, S., & Austin, L. (2019). Effects of CSR initiatives on company perceptions among Millennial and Gen Z consumers. Corporate Communications: An International Journal.

The purpose of this research is to examine millennial consumers’ responses to two types of corporate social initiatives – socially responsible business practices and corporate philanthropy – in combination with proactive and reactive corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication strategies. Using experimental methods, the researchers find that socially responsible business practices outperform the resources-giving (i.e., philanthropy) type of initiatives, even in the reactive communication setting.

Mediano Stoltze, F., Reyes, M., Taillie, L. S., Correa, T., Corvalán, C., & Dillman Carpentier, F. R. (2019). Prevalence of child-directed marketing on breakfast cereal packages before and after Chile’s food marketing law: A pre-post quantitative content analysis. International Journal of Environmental Risk and Public Health, 16(22), 4501.

Food marketing has been identified as a contributing factor in childhood obesity, prompting global health organizations to recommend restrictions on unhealthy food marketing to children. In response to this, Chile implemented a restriction on child-directed marketing strategies for products that exceed certain thresholds in sugars, saturated fats, sodium or calories. To evaluate changes in the use of child-directed strategies on packages due to this restriction, the researchers analyzed photographs of cereal packages taken from top supermarket chains in Santiago before and after the restriction was implemented. Results suggest the Chilean food marketing regulation can effectively reduce the use of child-directed marketing for unhealthy food products.

Reid, A. (2019). Fructifying the First Amendment: An asymmetric approach to Constitutional Fact Doctrine. 11 Fed. Ct. L. Rev. 109.

Animated by concerns for individual liberties, the U.S. Supreme Court has crafted a number of procedural protections unique to First Amendment cases. An important yet often misunderstood protection is the Constitutional Fact Doctrine, which allows appellate courts to flout the traditional deference accorded to lower court fact-finding and decide free speech matters anew. But the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals are split on whether independent appellate review applies symmetrically or asymmetrically. This essay offers a novel solution to the long-standing search for a limiting-principle for the Constitutional Fact Doctrine, positing that a one-way, asymmetric review of free speech matters can ensure robust protection for free expression.

Reid, A. (2019). Safeguarding fair use through First Amendment’s asymmetric constitutional fact review. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 28(23), 23-44.

This article proposes a new procedural safeguard for copyright fair use and offers a theoretical framework to heighten protection for the free expression interests of users of copyrighted works. This is the first work to offer a theoretical justification and limiting principle for constitutional fact review and to extend this framework to copyright fair use.

Rohde, J. A., Barker, J. O., & Noar, S. M. (2019). Impact of eHealth technologies on patient outcomes: A meta-analysis of chronic gastrointestinal illness interventions. Translational Behavioral Medicine.

Gastrointestinal (GI) illness interventions are increasingly using eHealth technologies, but little is currently known about their impact on patient outcomes. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of the GI eHealth intervention literature, finding that eHealth interventions hold promise in improving patient outcomes for those with GI illnesses. They suggest the next generation of GI interventions should continue to develop and evaluate the impact of technology using randomized controlled trial designs, and should consider adapting existing successful interventions for new platforms such as smartphones and tablets.

Rohde, J. A., Noar, S. M., Mendell, J. R., Hall, M. G., Baig, S. A., Ribisl, K. M., Brewer, N. T. (2019). E-cigarette health harm awareness and discouragement: Implications for health communication. Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Evidence for the health harms of e-cigarettes is growing, but it is unclear which harms may be most impactful in health messaging. This study sought to identify which harms tobacco product users were aware of and which most discouraged them from wanting to vape. Through an online survey of 1,872 U.S. adult e-cigarette-only users, cigarette-only smokers and dual users, results show that addiction was the least motivating e-cigarette harm, a notable finding given that the current FDA e-cigarette health warning communicates only about nicotine addiction. To increase impact, future warnings and other health communication efforts should discuss health harms beyond addiction, such as the effects of e-cigarette use on respiratory health.

Wright, C. L., Dillman Carpentier, F., Ey, L.-A., Hall, C. Hopper, K. M., & Warburton, W. (2019). Popular music media literacy: Recommendations for the education curriculum. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 6(2), 186-193.

In this article, the authors outline specific foundational curricular recommendations for helping children and adolescents gain understanding of, and perhaps a critical eye for, the commercialization and sexualization of popular music and music artists.

Yang, A., & Saffer, A. J. (2019). Embracing a network perspective in the network society: The dawn of a new paradigm in strategic public relations. Public Relations Review, 45(4), 1-11.

Scholars of strategic communication have increasingly recognized the interconnectedness of organizations, messages, stakeholders and publics, and have made valuable efforts to embrace the network paradigm. In the introduction to this special section, the authors develop an organizing framework for future network research in public relations. This article provides a brief introduction of the social network perspective, identifies key areas to implement a network perspective and calls for public relations scholars to embrace the network paradigm.


Eighth Annual Symposium on Digital Ethics, Loyola University Chicago
November 9, 2019 | Chicago, Illinois

Dwyer, D., & Painter, C. (2019, November). Erasing the past: Unpublishing’s challenges to traditional journalistic norms and ethics. Presented at the Eighth Annual Symposium on Digital Ethics, Chicago, Illinois.