Return to Directory

Holley Wilkin

Associate Professor    Graduate Director    

Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2005


Health Communication


My applied health communication research program revolves around reducing health disparities in diverse urban environments. I approach health communication from an ecological prospective—exploring individual, community and societal level factors influencing health knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. My research addresses three major areas: 1) improving health communication strategies for reaching people suffering from health disparities; 2) examining the relationship between individuals’ communication connections (e.g., interpersonal, mediated, new technologies), exposure to specific entertainment or news media messages, and health outcomes (e.g., knowledge or behavior change); and 3) developing community-based health interventions.

My previous research projects have involved:

  • Developing strategies to improve health communication outreach to new and old immigrant groups living in different Los Angeles communities (as part of the USC Metamorphosis Project).
  • Testing theoretically-based approaches to locating residents living in an Atlanta community who are particularly vulnerable to health disparities.
  • Analyzing health content in ethnic and mainstream news and entertainment media.
  • Evaluating the success of health storylines included in U.S. television programs as a form of entertainment-education (with USC and Hollywood, Health & Society scholars).
  • Investigating the role of family interaction in new immigrant civic engagement as well as in influencing Latinos and African-Americans health behaviors.
  • Studying the relationships between connecting to health storytellers—and more specifically a storytelling network—and health knowledge and behaviors.
  • Examining whether quality communication with health professionals and/or access to online health information reduces the impact of low health literacy.
  • Exploring the efficacy of different types of message framing at changing health knowledge and behavioral intentions.

Currently, my research efforts concentrate on understanding the systemic barriers that affect Atlanta residents’ healthcare access. My project team is in the process of developing several papers that provide an in-depth exploration of provider-patient communication as it influences residents’ choice to use primary versus emergency care. We are also exploring residents’ and medical professionals’ conceptions of primary care and “emergencies” in order to determine the best message strategies for a community-based educational campaign.

In addition, as the communication environment continues to transform, I have begun to explore the potential of new communication technologies for health communication. I am currently working with colleagues to explore the extent to which YouTube videos may influence adolescent smoking behaviors in the U.S. and evaluating the potential of mobile phones for health education in developing countries.

I am an affiliate of GSU’s Partnership for Urban Health Research and as such collaborate with an interdisciplinary team of researchers.

My research has appeared in Journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Health Communication, Health CommunicationHealth Education Research, Journal of Electronic Communication, Communication Research Reports, andJournalism: Theory, Practice, Criticism.


Wilkin, H. A., Stringer, K. A., O’Quinn, K., Hunt, K., & Montgomery, S. (2011). Using communication infrastructure theory to formulate a strategy to locate “hard-to-reach” research participants. Journal of Applied Communication Research39(2), 201-213.

Kim, Y. C., Moran, M. B., Wilkin, H. A., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2011). Integrated connection to a neighborhood storytelling network (ICSN), education, and chronic disease knowledge among African Americans and Latinos in Los Angeles. Journal of Health Communication, 16,393–415.

Wilkin, H. A., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2011). Hard-to-reach? Using health access status as a way to more effectively target segments of the Latino audience. Health Education Research26(2), 239-253.

Wilkin, H. A., Moran, M. B., Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Gonzalez, C., & Kim, Y. C. (2010). Applications of communication infrastructure theory. Health Communication25(6), 611-612.

Wilkin, H. A., Katz, V. S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2009). The role of family interaction in new immigrant Latinos’ civic engagement. Journal of Communication, 59(2)387-406.

Ball-Rokeach, S. J., & Wilkin, H. A. (2009). Ethnic differences in health information seeking behavior: Methodological and applied issues.Communication Research Reports, 26(1), 22-29.

Wilkin, H. A., Valente, T. W., Murphy, S., Cody, M. J., Huang, G., & Beck, V. (2007). Does entertainment-education work with Latinos in the United States? Identification and the effects of a telenovela breast cancer storyline. Journal of Health Communication, 12(6), 455-469.

Wilkin, H. A., Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Matsaganis, M. D., & Cheong, P. (2007). Comparing the communication connections of geo-ethnic communities: How people stay on top of their communities. Electronic Journal of Communication, 17(2).

Wilkin, H. A., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Reaching at risk groups: The importance of health storytelling in Latino media. Journalism: Theory, Practice, Criticism, 7(3), 283-304.