Director's Blog

January 2023 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank Deep Dive: Decision Aids as Relationship Building Tools

How do we guide clinicians and patients toward the use of decision aids to foster a trusting relationship as a foundation of effective shared decision making?

December 2022 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank Deep Dive: Health and Persuasion

How does it feel to know that your healthcare team might be trying to persuade you? How can clinicians use persuasive techniques without being perceived as being coercive? Can we clearly define the rules of the road regarding persuasive communication so that clinicians might feel more comfortable employing these techniques?

November 2022 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

Life-Threatening Emergency Challenging Discussion with Family/ Beloved Ones

Our September client champions were Dr. Emily Hirsch and her colleague Dr. Christy Keyes, Emergency Medicine physicians at Prisma Health in the upstate part of South Carolina. This report summarizes the result of discussions with Drs. Hirsch and Keyes, the video Deep Dive meeting, and pre-and post-meeting work by the Center for Health Communication Think Tank.

August 2021 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

Communication Strategies for Describing the Mind-Body Connection to Patients in Conversations About Their Pain

A recent client-champion who approached the Think Tank for communication strategies was Dr. Mark Queralt, a physician at the UT Health Austin Musculoskeletal Institute who cares for patients with spinal pain and injuries.

July 2021

A burnt orange square with a white outline of a text box and white text spelling HCLI

Meeting this Moment: Highlights from the 7th Health Communication Leadership Institute

On the heels of a global pandemic that illuminated every facet of our public health systems, health communicators have their work cut out for them in the new decade ahead. It’s undeniable the need for effective and compassionate health communicators is at an all-time high.

March 2021

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank Launches Clinician Communication Effectiveness Program

The Center for Health Communication Think Tank has launched the Clinician Communication Effectiveness Program (CCEP) to equip healthcare providers with practical communication strategies and tools they can implement into their daily work immediately.

January 2021

Happy New Year from the Center for Health Communication

The CHC in 2020

Looking back on 2020, this is certainly not the year we could have imagined around the Center for Health Communication (CHC). The importance of effectively communicating about health has seldom been so clear, and the CHC had many accomplishments to celebrate even amidst the uncertainty and challenges this year presented.

September 2020 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank Guide: Breaking Bad News and Compassion Fatigue

The topic we covered this month came from Robin Richardson of the Livestrong Institute at the Dell Medical School. The following post captures the recommendations that the Think Tank shared during our in-person deep dive discussion in September and a follow-up list serv circulation.

August 2020 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank Guide: Promoting the Upcoming Flu Vaccine Cycle and Managing Uncertainty

This month, we tackled the topic of managing uncertainty about the future COVID-19 vaccine and promoting the upcoming flu vaccine amidst the pandemic. We posed the following question to the Think Tank: “What are some ideas for promoting the flu vaccine for this upcoming cycle that could be applied to the eventual promotion of a COVID-19 vaccine?”

July 2020 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank Guide: Communicating Balance and Providing Feedback

Dr. David Ring and Dr. Billy Table investigated health communication best practices at this past month’s CHC Think Tank deep dive discussion. Read their crowdsourced practice guide published on our blog – they tackle issues of communicating balance, providing feedback, and challenging viewpoints of colleagues.

Screenshot of some of the Zoom attendees for the 2020 Virtual Health Communication Leadership Institute

2020 HCLI Highlights

Hosting a conference during the spread of COVID-19 posed unique challenges. With the determination of our staff this year, we were able to pivot from the usual three-day event on campus into one six-hour virtual conference. And you know what? We had fun doing it.

May 2020 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank Guide: Addressing and Documenting Patient Frustration

The Think Tank is a multi-disciplinary health communication collective with experience and subject-matter expertise to consult on real world communication issues in practice. This month, we tackled the topic of addressing and documenting patient frustration and distress.

April 2020 Blog

Evidence-based health communication

It’s Time to Get Vaccinated! 2 / ¡Es Tiempo de Vacunarte! 2

Earlier this year, the CHC began a new project and partnership with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Department of Family and Community Medicine to develop messages for social media and text messages to promote HPV vaccination.

Evidence-based health communication

CHC Think Tank: No Evidence that Vaccination Harms the Shoulder

During a rush to develop vaccines for COVID-19, misinformation abounds. Researchers at UT are working to alleviate fears that vaccination can harm the shoulder.

March 2020 Blog

Doctor caring for patient

CHC Think Tank: Measuring Patient Satisfaction with Accuracy

Patient satisfaction is an important indicator of healthcare improvement, and with the advent of healthcare delivery reform, patient satisfaction has become a powerful catalyst for change via financial incentive mechanisms.

Illustration of doctor communicating with a patient.

CHC Think Tank: The Role of Communication Effectiveness in Patient Satisfaction

Communication effectiveness is positively correlated with patient satisfaction and patient perception of clinician empathy.

February 2020

Happy New Year from the Center for Health Communication

Center for Health Communication: What's Next in 2020?

We’re a month into a new year and a few weeks into the spring semester, which is a good moment to look at what has already happened in 2020 and consider what’s coming this year.

November 2019 Blog

Picture of a cell phone with the Father's Playbook app home screen displaying

Father’s Playbook App: The Payoff of a Long-term Health Communication Research Program

Two weeks ago we enjoyed the major public launch of the Father’s Playbook app – an app designed to get expectant fathers involved in prenatal health and beyond.

October 2019 Blog

2018-2020 Center for Health Communication Mental Health and Health Communication theme

Mental Health & Health Communication: New Projects for a New Academic Year

As we enter the second year of our 2-year theme on mental health and health communication, we’re about to pursue several new projects including a whitepaper on communicating about mental health and developing education materials for health and communication professionals.

July 2019 Blog

HLCI 2019 speaker Dr. Jewel Mullen

Highlights from the 5th Annual Health Communication Leadership Institute

Fearless. Risk Taker. Creative. Empathetic. Great listener.

We asked participants at this summer’s Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI) to tell us the essential qualities of a health communication leader.

hospital-based hand hygiene campaign

Health Communication Campaign to Promote Hospital Hand Hygiene: Take Time. Save Lives.

One of the things I most appreciate about the field of health communication is the chance to do work with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds on a range of health issues facing different populations. It means a lot of opportunities to explore different health communication problems, and often the lessons learned in one context have utility in another.

April 2019 Blog

Stock photo of three students sitting at a table and pointing out something on a laptop

Technology in the (Health Communication) Classroom

There seems to be an almost endless debate about the use of technology in the classroom.

March 2019 Blog

Karen Ranus

Mental Health & Health Communication Symposium: Reflections on New Possibilities

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Center for Health Communication (CHC) hosted its Mental Health & Health Communication Symposium. The symposium was part of a 2-year theme on mental health and health communication, which was intended to invite in new partners from around UT-Austin and the community to engage at the intersection of mental health and health communication.

January 2019 Blog

MentalHealthbSymposiumn SavetheDate

Mental Health & Health Communication Symposium: A New Adventure in the New Year

The Center for Health Communication (CHC) is a full semester into a 2-year theme on Mental Health & Health Communication and as we look to the spring, we’re pursuing a new and ambitious event: a 1-day symposium on mental health and health communication on February 21 in HLB 1.111.

shaking hands

Second Round of CHER Funds

When the Center for Health Communication (CHC) began formal operation as a joint academic center between the Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School, one of the main goals of the partnership was to find ways to facilitate interdisciplinary research. To meet that goal, the CHC launched its Communication for Health, Empathy, and Resilience (CHER) grant program in Fall 2017.

December 2018 Blog

winter scene

Holding On in the Holiday Season​

Holidays. They can be delightful and distracting and they can be hard. If change, loss, distance, conflict, loneliness, and high expectations cause heartache, here are some tips for joy, hope and holding on.


The Benefits of Being a Mile Wide and a Foot Deep

The fall semester is (somehow) almost over, which means a chance to look back on what happened in the last few months and see what needs to get done before the break.

October 2018 Blog


Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Promotion

We’ve been working on a project related to the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) for over a year now. The project is part of Texas’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and we’re specifically focused on promoting the use of the Texas PMP as a tool for prescribers to make appropriate prescribing decisions.

UT researchers walking

Making Research Useful in Real Time

From the first moment I heard about Bridging Barriers, UT’s grand challenge initiative, I was excited. The UT Center for Health Communication is built on interdisciplinary partnerships across campus, and being part of a Bridging Barriers project would be another way to make important connections across the university for my own research and on behalf of our center.

Father's Playbook

Father's Playbook Milestone: The App Launch

One of my favorite lines of research revolves around how to better engage men in prenatal health promotion, and the exciting news is that our Father’s Playbook app has launched as a pilot.

2017 CHER networking kickoff

Health Communication as an Interdisciplinary Endeavor

So much of the talk on any college campus, I think, is about how everyone – faculty, staff, and students – could do a better job collaborating across departments, fields, etc. Health communication is a field that in many ways requires interdisciplinary partnerships, but that fact has been very top of mind lately.

September 2018 Blog

Doctor and Patient

Honing the Handoff

Health literacy refers to the ability of people to “obtain, process, and act appropriately on health information. Many patients lack strong health literacy skills, and it can be more of a challenge to effectively “hand off” critical information to them.

team work

CHER Grant Program: Round 2 in 2018-19

Whenever I teach a new course, I feel like it takes three times to get it working the way I really want it to. It’s almost impossible to get everything right the first time through, from how assignments are structured to running in-class assignments. But the Center for Health Communication (CHC) pilot grant program (CHER: Communication for Health, Empathy, and Resilience) worked almost exactly as designed in its inaugural cycle for 2017-18.

shaking hands

Center for Health Communication: 2018-19 as Evolution

As long as the Center for Health Communication (CHC) has existed, we’ve felt like every year has been a process of calculated but substantial experimentation. Last year we tripled our staff team, launched a variety of new projects, and it was a hectic and busy – but fun! – year.

July 2018 Blog

CHER grant proposal presentation

Documenting Year 1 of the CHER Grant Program

We were inspired as new collaborations formed and interdisciplinary research projects took shape during our first year of the CHER grant program. These student-written articles document our impressive batch of inaugural grantees.

Mental Health and Health Communication

Mental Health & Health Communication: What Could a 2-Year Theme Achieve?

Since the Center for Health Communication (CHC) announced its 2-year theme on mental health and health communication, I’ve been contacted by a number of faculty and students across UT and organizations outside the university. If one goal of this theme was to invite new people to get engaged with the CHC, it has been a promising start.

June 2018 Blog

HCLI 2018 improv fun

HCLI 2018: Reflections

This past week was the Center for Health Communication’s fourth annual Health Communication Leadership Institute and this time around, HCLI has truly hit its stride. We had great sponsors this year (Pfizer, HCA Gulf Coast Division, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Truth Initiative) and participants from a diverse set of backgrounds.

Read on for the highlights.

Mental Health and Health Communication

Mental Health and Health Communication: A Theme (and an Experiment) for 2018-2020

When I was appointed director of the Center for Health Communication (CHC) a little over a year ago, one of my first orders of business was to connect with other center directors across campus. I wanted to know more about how they ran their organizations, ask for their advice on where I might want to take the CHC, and generally benefit from the wisdom of successful colleagues.

Mental Health and Health Communication

Mental Health and Health Communication

The University of Texas at Austin Center for Health (CHC) is proud to announce the launch of a new 2-year theme: Mental Health and Health Communication. The theme will begin in Fall 2018 and run throughout the 2018-19 and 2019-2020 academic years.


Health Communication: Leadership as Evolution

This week is the Center for Health Communication’s professional development event: the Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI). As our team prepares for the fourth annual HCLI, I’m struck by the evolution of this event.

May 2018 Blog

Eliminate Tobacco Use Summit

Tobacco-Free: UT System-Wide Health Communication

One of the CHC’s ongoing projects has provided an opportunity not only to work with partners from different disciplines, but to work with colleagues from across the University of Texas System. The UT System Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative is an effort of all 14 UT System institutions to eliminate tobacco use on their campuses through efforts related to prevention, cessation, and policy.

CHC all hands meeting

The CHC 2017-2018 Year in Review

Exhale. On the tail end of a whirlwind of activity for the Center for Health Communication (CHC), the 2017-2018 year is coming to a close. With a moment to pause and reflect, I wanted to take some time to recognize our big successes in the last year and preview what is coming next.

April 2018 Blog

photo of light bulb

The Health Communication Spark

Center Director Dr. Mike Mackert shares his moment that really ignited his passion for health communication as a field.

Healthcomm presentation

Putting Creativity and Evidence into Practice

Center Director Dr. Mike Mackert, shares the two elements of health communication he finds most crucial.

March 2018 Blog

Why does the PMP matter?

Texas PMP Campaign: Progress and Unanticipated Benefits

In the fall it was announced that the Center for Health Communication (CHC) was awarded a contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to develop a health communication campaign to support Texas’s response to the opioid epidemic. The CHC is currently deep into the execution phase and refining key messages and tactics.

pill bottles

CHC Top 5: Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) FAQ

Learn 5 fast facts about the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program.

pill bottles

CHC Top 5: Talking About Pain with Patients

Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, physical therapists and other health care professionals often interact with patients who are experiencing pain. What can make these conversations effective and satisfying?

February 2018 Blog

Center for Health Communication


Along with evidence-based health communication scholarship and education, community involvement and public health practice are key pieces of the mission of the Center for Health Communication. Last week, CHC postdoctoral scholar Laura Brown attended the first meeting of the working group meant to help inform the City of Austin LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission on strategic priorities for 2018 where attendees brought a variety of experiences, identities, and ideas to the table.

HCLI 2017

Health Communication and Leadership

As the Center for Health Communication team is hard at work on the program for our Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI), Dr. Mackert has been thinking a lot about leadership lately. From streamlining agendas to more mutually satisfying negotiations, he is knee-deep in thought-provoking lessons on leadership.

January 2018 Blog

Getting Organized for 2018

As we look ahead to 2018, I’ve been thinking a lot about where the Center for Health Communication (CHC) is going, how we can best organize our team to get great work done, and how that organization can also keep the work fun and invigorating.

December 2017 Blog

photo of light bulb

Center for Health Communication Think Tank: Solving Practical Problems

The Center for Health Communication (CHC) has spent this fall looking for ways to support the mission and operations of Dell Medical School. One initiative I am particularly excited about is the CHC Think Tank.

Fast and Fruitful: A Fall Recap From the Center for Health Communication 

This fall marked the first full academic semester of the Center for Health Communication (CHC) as a joint academic center between the Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School. Reflecting on what has happened since the summer, when we began to plan for this extremely busy fall, we’ve seen…

Kate Pounders presenting at PMP meeting

The Texas PMP and the Opioid Epidemic: Health Communication

The CHC kicked off a project this fall working on the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) in conjunction with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The Texas PMP can be a helpful tool in combating the opioid epidemic in Texas, however, currently only one third of prescribers use the system. The CHC was tasked with creating a health communication campaign to promote the Texas PMP to prescribers as one component of the state’s broader work to address the epidemic.


Holiday Inspiration From a Little Girl Named Virginia

During this season, tips for wellness abound in psychological literature. The loss of loved ones, family conflict, unnamed sadness and loneliness impact many people. Tips can help but certain cultural experiences might help as well. So, rather than offer more wellness tips, Dr. Carrie Barron shares a story about 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon who in 1897, asked her father if there really was a Santa Claus.

November 2017 Blog


The Woman Behind the White Coat: Mary Beth Bennett

Guided by a passion for persuasion and the art behind ads, Mary Beth Bennett was drawn to the creative advertising program at Southern Methodist University after high school. Events in her personal life caused Bennett to take a particular interest in women’s health issues and the skills needed to take on her dream role of a marketing director for a non-profit.


Cross-Pollinating with Purpose

As you've probably heard, the CHC has recently been awarded funding to promote the web-based prescription monitoring program to health care providers and prescribers, but processes necessary for addressing the opioid crisis don’t end there. This semester we’re tackling the public health issue surrounding opioid abuse with the second year PharmD students in the Pharmacy Professional Communications course.

Positive Parenting and the Importance of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Though there are large number of treatments developed in academic settings, there is an equally large research to practice gap. Many of the populations studied in academic research trials don’t reflect the characteristics of children needing services in the real world.

October 2017 Blog

Students watching a presentation

99% Invisible

Effect design for health communication messaging is important, but Mike Mackert discusses how applying a design thinking framework to his research, teaching, and practice has helped him better understand design and how a message is more than just the words in an ad.

Thinking about a Growing Center for Health Communication Team

The CHC recently finalized a major contract on a statewide health communication campaign related to the opioid epidemic. (More details on that coming soon.) One of the many exciting outcomes of this project is the fact that we’ll get to add two new members of the CHC team. I couldn’t be more proud of and excited about the team I get to work with every day.

September 2017 Blog

App screen shot square

Following Your Research Interests, The Road to Engaging Men in Prenatal Health

There are many things that make Mike Mackert appreciate working in health communication as a field, but near the top of his list is the fact that his own personal interests – related to health literacy and message design – make it possible to explore different health issues, populations, and generally just always be on the hunt for interesting communication problems to try and solve. This can lead in unexpected and exciting directions.

CHC affiliates Mike Mackert and Shana Merlin

Grant Seeking as a Creative Exercise

At a recent Dell Med meeting of the Department of Population Health, chair Bill Tierney made an important point that highlighted what director Mike Mackert actually does enjoy about writing grants: it can be a fun and creative exercise!

CHC Faculty in Library

CHC Faculty as Teacher-Scholars

One of the things that Mike Mackert most values and appreciates about The University of Texas at Austin is the degree to which the institution and its leadership emphasize the importance of both research and teaching for faculty. He's been to the last few orientations for new faculty on campus, and every time the message is clear on the value of bringing research into the classroom and the benefits that can come from students working on research. This is why “teacher-scholar” is a popular term on our campus.

August 2017 Blog

Mike Mackert presenting at Dell Med all-hands meeting

Supporting (aka Funding!) Interdisciplinary Collaboration

One of the most unique and gratifying parts of health communication research and practice is the opportunity – requirement, almost – for interdisciplinary collaboration. This is one reasons Mike Mackert is excited about two Center for Health Communication programs and the kind of work they will fund and support in the coming years.

Participants at the Milestone zero presentation

Milestone 0 Presentation- Clinical Communication

What makes someone a good tourist? What makes a clinical rotation a good clerkship? How do I act like I belong when I have no idea what I’m doing? These questions were addressed by CHC Affiliates, Shana Merlin and Dr. Rob Milman at Milestone 0, a program helping UT Dell medical students transition from their year of preclinical study into their clinical clerkships.

Research is risky business

Research is Risky Business

Mike Mackert has certainly internalized the “Research is risky business” mantra, and passes it along to all of his advisees. Anyone who is exploring new ideas has to be willing to find out they’re wrong, especially important for graduate students – who are preparing for careers of pursuing answers to original research questions – to understand.


An Interdisciplinary Approach to New Student Orientation

A communication task that pharmacists perform daily is translating complex information about treatment regimens into language that patients can understand. During new student orientation, the Center kicked off its educational collaboration with the College of Pharmacy with a Communication Bootcamp. The bootcamp included an introduction to the Center, an overview of the importance of communication, and plenty of high-energy improvisational activities, one of which gave future Longhorn pharmacists a new technique to consider—using metaphors to translate that complex information.

July 2017 Blog

Men's pregnancy playbook screenshot

Anecdotes and Inspiration in Health Communication

Individual experiences can serve as inspiration or illustrate the importance of health communication in improving people's health and wellness. As an example, I became interested in the role of men in prenatal health when my family was expecting our first child. There wasn't anything really targeted to expectant fathers and our specific information needs. That led to a stream of intervention development and research.

Mike Mackert presenting at Dell Med all-hands meeting

The CHC as a Joint Academic Center

Mike Mackert reflects on the CHC becoming a joint operation between Moody and Dell Med, which was announced this spring, and how it presents exciting new opportunities for pursuing their mission of advancing evidence-based health communication in scholarship, education, and community involvement.

students in lobby

Learning How to Steal

Working in any field that requires creativity – whether it be advertising or health communication – it can be hard for students to realize that every single thing they do doesn’t have to be entirely original to be successful. Indeed, that will rarely be the case.

A Riotous Cessation

Carrie Barron shares how sometimes just when you think it is time to step it up, it is time to stop. For health reasons.

Evidence-Based Health Communication in Practice

One of the things that I most enjoy about working in health communication are those opportunities that allow for the translation of evidence-based research into actual practice. As an example, the CHC has been working for several years with Texas WIC regarding how to better engage and retain WIC clients.