School of Communication faculty Jan Boehmer and Maria Scott are the most recent recipients of a Center for Communication, Culture and Change research award. The two faculty members from the Department of Journalism and Media Management and the Department of Strategic Communication, respectively, will collaborate to identify the processes that influence young people to make healthy behavior choices. Children and adolescents continue to make poor lifestyle decisions and Boehmer and Scott are hoping to find out why.

“We want to build a bridge between sport and health communication – a connection that seems natural but is somewhat understudied,” said Boehmer. “Athletes’ communication on social media has great potential to cause change in adolescents’ lives, especially those that might not be reached by traditional health messaging.”

Their project will look at two major elements that have the potential to greatly affect youth: athletes and social media, and will seek to find if athletes, who serve as role models, post material on social media that reflect living a healthy lifestyle and if they are aware that their posts may influence perceptions and beliefs especially toward a younger audience. Boehmer and Scott will interview athletes about their social media habits and use surveys to measure athletes’ perceptions, attitudes, intentions and behaviors as they use social media to see if they believe they play a role in communicating health issues.