Susan H. Evans is a research scientist at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She has a long-standing interest in using communication technologies and strategies to improve public health, especially people’s capacity to avoid or manage chronic illnesses.
Her current research focuses on developing, testing, and disseminating a mobile phone app to help low-income people use fresh vegetables distributed by food pantries. This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Aetna Foundation, and builds on her years of experience working with food banks across the country, helping more than 150 organizations launch programs to distribute fresh produce. (See Stanford Social Innovation Review for an article recounting the lessons learned from this effort).
She is co-author (with Peter Clarke) of Surviving Modern Medicine: How to Get the Best from Doctors, Family, and Friends (Rutgers University Press, 1998). Through it, readers discover how to establish better communication with their doctors, make more thoughtful choices among options for care, and get support from friends and family that promotes wellness.
She is an award-winning producer of interactive media tools in health, from such organizations as the Association of Visual Communications and the International Teleconferencing Association. She and Clarke received the 2018 Award for Applied Research from the International Communication Association.
Evans has been co-PI on research grants from the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the IBM Corporation, the State of California, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and other foundations and agencies.
Prior to earning her PhD at the University of Michigan, she held a number of positions in marketing and public opinion research, and is co-author (with Clarke) of Covering Campaigns: Journalism in Congressional Elections (Stanford University Press, 1983).
Awards and honors:
Applied Research Award for a Body of Work, International Communication Association (2018).
Heroes of Food Recovery, United States Secretary of Agriculture (1997).
Distinguished Award for Hunger Relief, UPS Foundation (1996).
Outstanding Contribution in Patient Activities, American Diabetes Association California Affiliate (1994).
Outstanding Achievement in Two-Way Video Applications (for Using Videoconferencing to Spread Services in Cancer Support), International Teleconferencing Association (1991).
Casing the Family: Theoretical and Applied Approaches to Understanding Family Communication, chapter: “‘It was shocking to see her make it, eat it, and love it!’ How a mobile app can transform family food and health conversations in low-income homes,” co-author (Kendall Hunt, 2019)
“A consumer health app works well... But, diffusion is not so easy,” co-author (Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science, 2019).
“Resolving design issues in developing a nutrition app: A case study using formative research,” co-author (Evaluation & Program Planning, 2018).
“Mobile app increases vegetable-based preparations by low-income household cooks: A randomized controlled trial,” author (Public Health Nutrition, 2018).
“How do cooks actually cook vegetables? A field experiment with low-income households,” co-author (Health Promotion Practice, 2015).
“Indigenous message tailoring increases consumption of fresh vegetables by clients of community food pantries,” co-author (Health Communication, 2011).
“Information design to promote better nutrition among pantry clients: Four methods of formative evaluation,” co-author (Public Health Nutrition, 2010).
“Training volunteers to run information technologies: A case study of effectiveness at community food pantries,” co-author (Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2010).
“An app that nudges people to eat their veggies only works when it’s introduced with a human touch,” co-author (The Conversation, 2019).
COMM 443: Communicating Better Health: What Works and Why