Columbia, Mo. (May 20, 2003) — The Missouri School of Journalism is emerging as a national leader in health communications research. In April alone the School secured $850,000 in federal grant money to fund cancer communication research projects.
Professor Glen Cameron, PhD, who holds the Maxine Wilson Gregory Chair in Journalism Research and teaches strategic communications, has been heading up the effort to increase Missouri’s involvement in the field of health communications research. He and Melissa Poole, grants writer for the School, drafted detailed project proposals to win the funding.
One award will come from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and is part of a larger plan to create a new Center for Excellence in Cancer Communication Research (CECCR) as a joint program of the Missouri School of Journalism and St. Louis University. The University of Missouri’s portion of the funding is $650,000 and will be used to create a news information bureau that will provide locally-relevant and race-specific cancer news stories to black newspapers or newspapers in predominantly black markets. Follow-up surveys will be conducted to find out whether the increased coverage has had an impact on cancer knowledge and health behaviors in the targeted communities.
The second grant for $200,000 is the product of a three-year collaborative effort by Cameron and the School of Nursing. They successfully lobbied the Department of Health and Human Services to earmark federal funding for a Cancer Communication Research Center at MU. The grant hasn’t been allocated to specific projects yet but a portion of it will be used to support graduate research assistants and staff for the Center.
Cameron believes that the Journalism School is in a unique position to contribute to health communications research because of its ability to pool its expertise with other schools and departments on campus such as the nursing, medical, veterinary and agricultural schools. Cameron and seven doctoral research assistants carry out most of the health communications research but occasionally projects are assigned to graduate students in his Strategic Communication Research Methods class.
Research is already underway on several projects that secured funding in 2001 and 2002. One is a project funded by the Department of Agriculture ($97,000) to provide oncology nurses with a strategic information kit for delivering information about nutrition to cancer patients. Another is a collaborative project being carried out by a team of researchers at the Missouri School of Journalism and at UMR’s Department of Engineering Management, funded by Monsanto Protein Technologies ($147,000), to assess the degree of public understanding and acceptance of plant-based biopharmaceuticals. Cameron’s team is in the process of conducting interviews with physicians, medical students and patient advocates.
Cameron sees the projects as proof of the value and social benefits of strategic communication.
Updated: March 2, 2020