Noar honored (again) as top health communication scholar

UNC School of Media and Journalism Professor Seth Noar has been named the 2016 Outstanding Health Communication Scholar by the National Communication Association (NCA).

Noar will be recognized for the honor at NCA’s annual conference in Philadelphia on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. The award comes just months after Noar received the Lewis Donohew Outstanding Health Communication Scholar Award at the biennial Kentucky Conference on Health Communication in Lexington, Kentucky. 

In nominating Noar for the award, retired eminent health communication scholar at the school, Jane Brown, said he brings gravitas to the health communication field by conducting research that matters. 

“He takes the time to encourage others and to make the interdisciplinary connections that are the heart of what we do,” said Brown. “He has a truly impressive record and trajectory that promises more great work to come.”

Noar joined the MJ-school in July 2011 and is also a member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. His research interests are centered in health communication, particularly how to harness traditional and new media to promote healthy behavioral changes among individuals and communities.

This type of research involves understanding and applying behavioral theories that advance our understanding of the behavior change process; testing message design theories and frameworks to best understand what types of messages will be most resonant and persuasive with target audiences; and evaluating messages in carefully designed experiments and randomized trials.

Over the past five years, Noar’s research has focused on cancer prevention. He has conducted research on the impact of celebrity cancer announcements on media and person outcomes; how a combination of environmental changes and social marketing can impact fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary students; and how the belief systems of adolescent and young adult females affect their decision-making about indoor tanning behavior. Noar’s most significant recent focus is on anti-tobacco messages, including assessing the impact of graphic warning labels on cigarette packs.

He is an investigator on three grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration, including as co-director of the Communication Core for the UNC Center for Regulatory Research on Tobacco Communication. All of this work seeks to inform national policy regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s communications about tobacco products to improve public health.

Noar has published nearly 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and more than 25 book chapters in leading books in health communication and related disciplines. He has also co-edited two books in health communication. His work crosses over from communication journals to medical journals including several Journal of the American Medical Association journals.

“Carolina has become a real hub for interdisciplinary work and thought leadership in the impactful research area of health communication, and Seth Noar is in the center of that hub,” said Susan King, dean of the school. “He is a leader of the University’s Interdisciplinary Heath Communication initiative that facilitates collaboration among scholars from our school with those in public health, information and library science, psychology and other fields.”

In 2014, Thomson Reuters named him a “highly cited” researcher — indicating that Noar is among the top 1 percent most cited researchers in the social sciences. 

NCA advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific and aesthetic inquiry. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.