Kim Witte's Home Page 
Full Vita
Research Team (great pictures of current/former students)**
Getting Your Graduate Degree at Michigan State University
Health Communication as a Discipline
NEW Book!!

Kim Witte (Ph.D., University of California) is Professor, Department of Communication, Michigan State University.  She currently is on leave (2001-2003), working as a senior program evaluation officer at the Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins University, where she is providing technical assistance with conceptualization, design, evaluation, and analysis of international health communication research projects.  Her current research focuses on the development of effective health risk messages for members of diverse cultures.  Dr. Witte is Chair of the Health Communication Division of the International Communication Division and a past-Chair of the Health Communication Division of the National Communication Association. She sits on 10 editorial boards and has served as expert consultant to the National Libraries of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and others. Her work has appeared in Social Science and Medicine, International Quarterly of Communication Health Education, Communication Yearbook, Health Education & Behavior, Communication Monographs, Journal of Community Health, and elsewhere.  Dr. Witte has received funding from the CDC, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the American Cancer Society, and elsewhere. Her work has been recognized by over a dozen "Top Paper" awards at both national and international conferences, as well as by the “Distinguished Article Award” by the Applied Communication Division of the National Communication Association, in recognition of the applied and practical value of her research.  In 1997, Dr. Witte was awarded the “Teacher-Scholar Award” at Michigan State University, in recognition of excellence in research and undergraduate education. Recently, Dr. Witte was named the Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication, awarded in recognition of outstanding research contributions to the health communication field made during the preceding biennium.  She is the lead author of Effective Health Risk Messages: A Step-by-Step Guide, published by Sage spring 2001.

Research (back to top)
      Dr. Witte has published extensively in the area of fear appeals, also known as "scare tactics."
Her health risk message model, called the Extended Parallel Process Model, has been tested
over dozens of topics ( including HIV/AIDS prevention, skin cancer prevention, beryliosis,
folic acid and homocysteine, dental hygiene, railway safety, nutrition, tractor safety,
coal miner's hearing loss, STD prevention, silicosis, electromagnetic fields, environmental  issues,
and many more) and populations (including commercial sex workers in Kenya, juvenile delinquent
youth, farmers, coal miners, factory plant workers, college students, Hispanic immigrants, African-
American junior high youth, inner-city teen mothers, African-American homeowners, food pantry
customers and volunteers, truck drivers, and more).  In 1992 she published the original theory
piece, followed by an update in 1998.  (See Vita link for citations of specific empirical studies.)
Click on the SLIDE SHOW to see a powerpoint summary of Dr. Witte's work.

Witte, K., Meyer, G., & Martell, D. (2001).  Effective Health Risk Messages: A Step-by-Step Guide.  Newbury Park, CA:  Sage.


Theory Pieces

    Witte, K. (1992).  Putting the fear back into fear appeals: The extended parallel process model. Communication Monographs, 59, 329-349.

    Witte, K. (1998). Fear as Motivator, Fear as Inhibitor: Using the Extended Parallel Process  Model to Explain Fear Appeal Successes and Failures (pp.  423-450). In P. A. Andersen and L. K. Guerrero (Eds.), The Handbook of Communication and Emotion: Research, Theory, Applications, and Contexts. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

     Fear appeals in Tobacco (University of Toronto, Health Communication Centre)

    Witte, K., & Allen, M. (2000). A meta-analysis of fear appeals: Implications for effective public health campaigns. Health Education & Behavior (formerly Health Education Quarterly), 27, 608-632.

Research Support Information (survey items, focus group protocol)
Following are useful sites if you are interested in doing health risk message research:

            * Description of the Extended Parallel Process Model

            *  Examples of Items and Research Methods for Health Risk Message Models -- In 1997-98, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine/Pacific Northwest Region commissioned several papers on exemplar outreach interventions and evaluation methods.  Click on this site to see examples of items used in studies of the Health Belief Model, the Theory of Reasoned Action,  the Extended Parallel Processing Model, Social Learning Theory, Stages of Change.  To adapt these items for your topic and population, simply define your health threat and your recommended response clearly, and then substitute in your threat and response in the items.

            *The Risk Behavior Diagnosis Scale Manual -- In 1995-96, Dr. Witte and her research team developed a simple, easy-to-calculate scale that immediately diagnosed whether your audience or client was in fear control or danger control.  This manual contains the scale as well as types of messages to use given different scores.  (The article that published this scale was awarded the "Distinguished Article Award" by the Applied Communication Division of the National Communication Association.)

            * Examples of Items -- This site contains examples of items used in the EPPM.  Be sure to clearly define your health threat and recommended response, and then substitute in your threat and response whenever appropriate.

            * Focus Group Protocol -- This is a focus group protocol based on the EPPM.  It was used for the HIV/AIDS prevention project in Kenya.


Classes (back to top)
        Dr. Witte typically teaches graduate methods courses or health communication courses.  To see the syllabi for these courses:

            * COM 802, Research Methods II (graduate students, COM 801 is a pre-requisite)
            *  CAS 826, Health Communication for Diverse Populations

Please note that during the academic year 2000-2001, Dr. Witte will be on leave, working for the Center for Communication Programs,
Johns Hopkins University.

Graduate Study at Michigan State University    (back to top)
    *  M.A. in Health Communication -- This is a relatively new program that equips students with
basic vocational skills on health communication intervention design, development, and evaluation.
For more information,
    *  Ph.D. in Communication --  The Department of Communication at Michigan State University offers one of the best Ph.D. programs in the nation.  This highly competitive program is based in a department that recently ranked #1 for applied communication and #3 for communication theory in a nationwide study.  One of the hallmarks of the program is the research team concept, where students work closely with a faculty member on research projects.  A benefit of this approach is that faculty and students remain friends long after students graduate (click here to see Dr. Witte's research team in action).  For more information about the department,

Health Communication as a Discipline      (back to top)
        Health Communication is an exciting, growing, field that increasingly attracts bright scholars, grant funds, and recognition for the communication discipline. There are now Health Communication Divisions for the International Communication Association, the National Communication Association, and the American Public Health Association.  Many federal institutions now have health communication offices. Following are some Health Communication Resources.

*  Health Communication Division, International Communication Association.

*  Health Communication Division, National Communication Association.

*  Health Communications Committee, Public Health Education and Health Promotion, American Public Health Association.

*  Examples of Health Communication Syllabi.

*  International Health Communication Events/News -- Following is a site that contains information, ideas, linkages and dialogue on communication, development, and change.  It is sponsored by THE COMMUNICATION INITIATIVE partnership - The Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF, USAID, WHO, BBC World Service, CIDA, Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, The European Union, Soul City, The Panos Institute.

*  InHealth Newsletter -- a national health communication resource.

Journal of Health Communication

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