Professional News

Kentucky Conference on Health Communication to Take Place April 7-9

Nancy Harrington (left), KCHC director and associate dean for research in the College of Communication and Information, with KCHC Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar Julia van Weert (right), pose with the award’s namesake, the late Lewis Donohew, in 2018.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 1, 2022) — The 17th biennial Kentucky Conference on Health Communication (KCHC) is right around the corner, and this year’s conference will honor a scholar who first attended KCHC as a graduate student.

This year’s conference, titled “Communication Strategies to Promote Comprehensive Well-being,” will be held on April 7-9, at the Hyatt Regency Lexington. Jessica Myrick will be presented with the 2022 KCHC Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award.

This award is named in honor of Lewis Donohew who was on the faculty in the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information’s Department of Communication from 1964 to 1999. Recipients of the award, like Myrick, are recognized for their outstanding research contributions to the health communication field. 

“It’s an award that means a lot to me and such big names in the field have won it before and I was surprised, and happily so,” Myrick said. “It was a really humbling feeling, but also I’m so grateful for the friends and colleagues and mentors that I’ve had. And it’s a nice reminder to stop and think about all those people that helped. Even though it’s only my name on the award, it really has the influence of a lot of great people that I’ve known.”

Myrick, professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at The Pennsylvania State University, is a health communication scholar interested in the role of emotions in shaping responses to media messages about health. She particularly studies emotional tactics and appeals other than fear in an effort to understand the complexity of emotions people feel toward health messages.

In 2012, Myrick attended her first KCHC as a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She presented a paper with friend, colleague and Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication award recommender Jessica Willoughby, associate professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. The pair has continued to collaborate on numerous projects since then, demonstrating that the conference experience helped set the stage for their scholarly careers.

“KCHC was the first health communication-specific conference I went to and got me really, really interested in the field,” Myrick said. “It was just so interesting and invigorating to have all these really prominent health communication scholars in the same place, and they were all so accessible and asking questions and really involved. I think that’s a good model for doing good science too, to be kind and supportive and ask questions in a way that fosters discussion. So it really sort of helped me see the positive in research and health communication research.”

A national and international audience of about 250 people will attend the conference. Attendees include faculty members and graduate students from a variety of academic institutions and disciplines, healthcare providers and practitioners, and representatives from government and private entities.

Thursday’s pre-conference will be a highly interactive day that addresses strategies to promote academic-clinical research partnerships in health communication. Attendees will hear from research teams and practitioners, engage in small and large group discussions and activities, and gain insight into applying for and managing extramural grants to support academic-clinical research. 

On Friday, Professor Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath of Harvard University, will deliver the keynote address to start the conference. Competitive papers, posters and panel sessions will round out this day. Authors represent 37 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan, as well as more than 100 institutions and organizations.

The conference will conclude Saturday afternoon with an awards luncheon, during which Myrick will receive the Donohew award and make a research presentation. Awards also will be given for top poster, top student paper, top early-career scholar paper and top conference paper.

To view the full program, visit

“The number one thing I hope people take away from KCHC is inspiration,” said Nancy Harrington, KCHC director and associate dean for research in the College of Communication and Information. “I want people to be inspired by the excellent health communication research that’s presented and the outstanding scholars they meet. I want folks to have the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones, enjoy intellectually stimulating conversations, generate new ideas for research and collaborations, and have an overall outstanding conference experience. I want them to leave KCHC 2022 with happy memories and look forward with excitement to KCHC 2024.”

Funding for KCHC is made possible in part by a grant from the National Cancer Institute and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research in addition to support from the UK Vice President for Research and UK HealthCare

If you would like to learn more about KCHC, visit

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