UI School of Journalism focuses on health communication with new hire

BY MICHELLE KIM | MARCH 12, 2013 5:00 AM

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Journalism faculty at the University of Iowa developed a strategic plan in 2007 to increase the focus on health communications, and the recent hiring of a new assistant professor will contribute to the plan.

Rachel Young, a contributing editor for Cricket Magazine Group in Chicago, was recently hired as an assistant professor in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She will start in August.

“I think that Iowa is a perfect set for me, [both] professionally and personally,” Young said.
Young, who has visited Iowa City before, thinks the area can become a suitable place for her to bring her family. She has two children.

Young, who is getting a master’s in public health at the University of Missouri, said the UI has carried a deep history with health-communication studies. She conducts a great deal of research in public health.

Journalism school officials said health communication is becoming popular, and it is a growing discipline in the College of Public Health and the journalism school.

“The feedback we are receiving back from patients is very positive and encouraging,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said. “They appreciate the increased effort [so] that they understand the information they are receiving.”

Faculty members in the journalism school were enthusiastic about Young’s hiring.

“She was obviously highly intelligent and already very accomplished,” said David Perlmutter, the director of the school.

Perlmutter said the program would become an important source for the world, and journalism officials look forward to Young’s involvement.

He said Young will teach and do research, which satisfied the school’s hiring profile.

UI journalism Professor Julie Andsager said health communication helps people who do not know how to make the best choices about health.

“[Health communication] provides clear and useful information so they can make better choices about what they eat, what types of checkups they need to have …” she said.

One of Andsager’s experiments focuses on how people interpret risk-related contents. The other research focuses on how rural newspapers, which are reliable sources to those who live far off, cover nutrition.

Young’s goal is to improve health outcomes that best serve the needs of the community, and she hopes to share her research.

“I’m most looking forward to collaborating with other scholars at Iowa to make a significant difference and improve health outcomes through communication research,” she said.

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