School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Health Communication and Wellbeing Research Group

Health Communication and Wellbeing has long been a core research interest in the School, with health promotional content being the subject of two of the impact case studies submitted during the REF 2014 exercise.

Our research is now expanding towards aspects of health communication and wellbeing that cut across legacy and digital media and involve a range of different stakeholders: advertisers, researchers, educators, third-sector organisations, physicians and health service providers, policymakers, and citizens. We are looking, for instance, at the intersection of lay expertise and scientific knowledge in health communication processes, at the impact of new forms of digitally-mediated communication on production, exchange and assimilation of health information as well as on health service provision, at the implications of living in knowledge societies where “big data” and “open data” are becoming key words.

We are open to multidisciplinary and international collaborations and currently working with colleagues from population health sciences, computer science, psychology and sociology.

Contributing Researchers: David Bartram, Anna Claydon, Scott Davidson, Roger Dickinson, Sarah Gong, Barrie Gunter, Anders Hansen, Jason Hughes, Kaity Mendes, Michelle O'Reiley, Ian Somerville, Grace Sykes, Jackie Sanchez Taylor, Jo Whitehouse-Hart, Yimei Zhu.

Contributing Postgraduate Research Students: Alison Drewett, Peter Emmerson, Tom Furniss, Zhenghan Gao, Maria Gonzalez

Research Cluster lead and Information Contact: Dr Sarah Gong

Our key questions

  • What is the impact of the media (e.g. news, advertising, magazine, social media) on public understandings of issues relating to health and illnesses?
  • How does social media communication affect public health debate? To what extent can social media improve health service delivery?
  • How to improve direct or mediated patient-health professional communication?
  • How perceptions and experiences of risk relate to public/health service users’ understanding of health and illnesses? How risk work shapes the experiences and practices of health professionals?
  • What are the roles of eHealth (e.g. apps) and mHealth (e.g. SMS) in delivering health information and interventions, managing physical and mental health and maintaining wellbeing?
  • How does eHealth reconfigure health care provision and regulation?
  • What is the effect of migration, ageing and retiring on wellbeing?

Current and recent projects

  • Michelle O'Reilly (PI) Empowering pre-teens online through a digital ethics of care. funded by ESRC (eNurture network funding) (2021) £17,659.48 (22,074.35 FEC) Co-I: Diane Levine and Sarah Adams
  • Sarah Gong (PI) Co-design and implement a COVID-19 vaccine uptake intervention within Chinese communities in England, Co-Is: Ian Somerville and Huiyu Zhou, funded by AHRC/UKRI. 2021
  • Sarah Gong (PI) Developing a training toolkit for language translation companies working with the NHS maternity service 2021 (PI) funded by ESRC Accelerating Business Collaborations/Early Career Researcher Fund (CIs Prof. Huiyu Zhou, Partners: Da Languages, NHS Manchester Central Foundation Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, Wai Yin Society), 2021
  • Sarah Gong (PI) An exploratory study of factors and determinants of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy for developing a conceptual framework to inform the design of communicative intervention/s in Ghana, India and South Africa 2021, funded by International Research Development Fund ODA/GCRF, 2021
  • Sarah Gong (PI) "Producing and launching a short health information film for Chinese maternity care users, NHS maternity service and Chinese community organisations" 2019-2021 (PI) funded by ESRC Impact Acceleration Rapid Response scheme and College Research Development Fund
  • Jason Hughes (PI) "Evaluating the impact of e-cigarette product labelling and warnings across different ages, ethnicities and genders" 2019-2021 Funded by ESRC IAA rapid response scheme
  • Sarah Gong (CI) "Red flags and symptom checkers for self-diagnosis in maternity" Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity (Sands) 2019-2020 Nicola Mackintosh (PI)
  • Michelle O’Reilly (PI) Wellcome ISSF Public Engagement Seed Fund “Her & The Change in me: What do women want for support?” (2018-19)
  • Michelle O’Reilly (PI) International Research Development Fund “Child participation to inform child mental health service transformation” (2018-19)
  • Michelle O’Reilly (PI) University of Leicester Tiger Team Grant “Art to educate the public on the menopause”. 2019
  • Jason Hugues and Grace Sykes (PI) Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (2018-19)
  • Yimei Zhu (PI) Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund Institutional Partnerships Fund “Build collaboration to study the influence of social media on Postpartum depression in China” (2018-19)
  • Jason Hughes (PI)' project "Adolescent Vaping Careers" (FEC Value of £278,321.17) is funded by Cancer Research UK. C60744/A23882 (2017-2019). CI Michelle O'Reilly
  • Jason Hughes is the CI of the project "The Regulation of E-Cigarettes in and Around Organisational Lives" (FEC value of £102,246.83, PI Dr Charlotte Smith, Leicester Business School) funded by Cancer Research UK. C60666/A23885 (2017-2019).
  • Yimei Zhu (PI) "Digital Identity transformation, stigma and mental wellbeing of e-sports professional players" funded by International research development fund
  • Sarah Gong (PI) "Establishing contact with new impact partners and coordinating video (knowledge creation/training) production with established partners 2019" CSSAH Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange (RIKE) Fund
  • Sarah Gong (PI) Wellcome Trust small grant “Health communication for Chinese migrant women in Northern England - an explorative qualitative study” (2017-2018). CI Kuldip Bharj
  • Sarah Gong (PI) College Research Development Fund for a scoping study "Communicating smoking-related health risks – a scoping study of professional and lay understandings in China" (2017) CIs Jason Hughes, Martin Tobin, Louise Wain
  • Michelle O’Reilly is the PI of the Wellcome Trust funded project “Social media and adolescent mental health: A preliminary qualitative exploration of the potential use of social media for promoting mental health and wellbeing among 12-18 year olds” (2016-2017). CIs Jason Hughes and Natasha Whiteman

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