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We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers who study how media and messaging shape opinions, attitudes, and behaviors of multiple audiences. We co-design, conduct, and disseminate results of this research to enhance understanding of the ways that communication can help to advance health and racial equity through health and social policy.

Our research is conceptually organized around a vision of three interconnected research areas that inform communication strategies to advance health and racial equity.

Health and Racial Equity Tracking Hubs


Our core team includes researchers at three institutions: Cornell University, Wesleyan University, and the University of Minnesota. While each institution leads a research hub focused on a particular approach to the study of communication, with a focus on media and messaging (as described in the figure above), our team’s work is fundamentally interconnected, and we all share an emphasis on promoting and supporting policies to advance health and racial equity. Collectively, our research tracks the content of media (including news and advertisements); examines the impact of media messaging on attitudes, values, and behavior; and identifies new opportunities to work with journalists, public health officials, affected communities, and advocacy organizations to put the research findings into practice to advance health and racial equity.

Our Research

We conduct research that tracks media discourse on pressing health–related topics, with an emphasis on how this coverage engages with broader narratives of racial justice and health equity, to understand the potential effects of exposure to media on the public, policymakers, professionals, and communities most affected by inequitable structures.

We organize our work in three areas:

  • Media Tracking Hub

    We monitor the volume, content, and variation in news coverage and advertising on a broad set of population health–relevant messaging in both local news sources and broader strategic advertising.

  • Media Impact on Mindsets and Values Hub

    Once we have documented key messages in the media ecosystem, we assess the effects of this messaging on multiple audiences, which requires understanding these audiences’ values, beliefs, and predispositions. We use both randomized messaging experiments (which help us to identify specific message content that influences key audiences) and longitudinal, observational field studies (which test relationships between the overall content and volume of media messages) to inform communication strategy for social change.

  • Engagement, Dissemination and Implementation Hub

    In turn, we feed these insights into engagement and dissemination strategies that build upon our knowledge of and relationships with various audiences who are best positioned to act on our research findings.

These three hubs of our media research collaborative are fundamentally interconnected: the insights from each hub inform and position the others to collectively build and learn from strategic efforts to shift opinions and change narratives to advance health and racial equity through health and social policy.