K. "Vish" Viswanath, PhD
Office phone: 617-632-2225
Website: The Viswanath Lab
Preferred contact method: email
Area of ResearchPopulation Sciences
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
450 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Before coming to Harvard, Dr. Viswanath was the Acting Associate Director of the Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Populations Sciences at the National Cancer Institute. As Acting AD of BRP, Dr. Viswanath was responsible for 50 scientific and administrative staff and for extramural scientific developments in behavioral sciences at NCI. He was also a senior scientist in NCIs Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch.
He went to the National Cancer Institute from The Ohio State University where he was a tenured faculty member in the School of Journalism and Communication with an adjunct appointment in the School of Public Health. Dr. Viswanath was also a Center Scholar with Ohio State's Center for Health Outcomes, Policy, and Evaluation Studies.
Dr. Viswanath received his doctoral degree in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota.
- Mayhew Derryberry Award, American Public Health Association, 2009
- Fellow, Society for Behavioral Medicine, 2008
- Fellow, Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, 2006
Dr. Viswanath's research draws on literature in communication science, social epidemiology, and social and health behavior. He is, however, equally concerned with bridging the gap between "discovery" and "delivery" and is working toward translating knowledge to influence public health policy and practice. Dr. Viswanath's current research program reflects his general interests, but in three distinct concentrations:
1) The reasons for limited access to health information and the implications of unequal access to public and individual health
2) The study of health and science reporting, including the sociology of medical and health journalism, with an interest in bridging the worlds of science and journalism to improve health communication
3) Examining the effects of mass media news and entertainment on health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors
The findings from this body of work are useful in designing:
- strategies not only to enhance access to health information among the underserved, but also to make this information understandable to low-literacy populations.
- effective messages and communication systems to reduce cancer risk and promote prevention.
Current research in the Viswanath Lab at DFCI/HSPH focuses on documenting the link between inequalities in communication and health disparities, and how to address these disparities through communication and dissemination. Within this broader context, Dr. Viswanath's work explores:
- e-health and health disparities
- information seeking among cancer survivors and patients
- the professional work of health journalists
- how people learn about health from the media
- the media's role in tobacco use
- health communication and social capital
The Viswanath Lab currently consists of post-doctoral fellows, doctoral students, and project staff. The work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Legacy Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, among others.
- Hannon P.A., Lloyd G.P., Viswanath K., Smith T., Basen-Engquist K., Vernon S.W., Turner, G., Hesse B.W., Crammer C., von Wagner C., Backinger C. Mass Media and Marketing Communication Promoting Primary and Secondary Cancer Prevention. Journal of Health Communication. 2009;14(1 Suppl):30-37.
- Ackerson, L.K., Viswanath, K. Communication Inequalities, Social Determinants, and Intermittent Smoking in the 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2009;6(2).
- Ackerson, L.K., Viswanath, K. The Social Context of Interpersonal Communication and Health. Journal of Health Communication. 2009;14(1 Suppl):5-17.
- Davis R, Gilpin E, Loken B, Viswanath K, Wakefield M. (2008). The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use. Monograph 19. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services, National Cancer Institute.
- Glanz K, Rimer B, Viswanath K. (2008). (Eds.) Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice. 4th Ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
- Area Editor, Social & Behavioral Research, International Encyclopedia of Communication. Blackwell Press.
- Viswanath K. Social Capital and Health Communications. Ichiro Kawachi, S.V. Subramanian & Daniel Kim (Eds.) Social Capital and Health. Springer. 2008: 259-271.
- Savoia E., Stoto M.A., Biddinger P.D., Campbell P., Viswanath K., Koh H. Risk-communication capability for public health emergencies varies by community diversity. BMC Research Notes. 2008;1:6.
- Emmons, K.M., Viswanath, K., Colditz, G. The Role of Transdisciplinary Collaboration in Translating and Disseminating Health Research: Lessons Learned and Exemplars of Success. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008;35(2 Suppl): S204-10.
- Viswanath K., Kreuter, MW. Health Disparities, Communication Inequalities and E-health: A Commentary. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2007; 32 (5 Suppl): S131-3.
- Taylor-Clark K., Koh, H., Viswanath, K. Perceptions of environmental health risks and communication barriers among low-SEP and racial/ethnic minority communities. Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved. 2007;18(4 Suppl):165-83.
- Viswanath K. The Communications Revolution and Cancer Control. Nature Reviews Cancer. 2005;5(10):828-35.