Health Communication and Marketing

RTI experts in health communication and social marketing research examine the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of target populations and design campaigns to promote effective communication, informed decision making, and healthy behaviors. We work with federal and state government agencies, as well as foundations, nonprofits, and commercial organizations.

Our health communication expertise spans the full spectrum of health communication and social marketing activities—from audience segmentation and formative research to creative message and materials development, intervention design and implementation, and comprehensive evaluation. These rigorous research activities and evidence-based campaigns target individuals, families, communities, health professionals, and policy makers.

Health Literacy Skills Instrument

We developed the Health Literacy Skills Instrument (HLSI) to assess four domains of health literacy skills: print literacy (reading and writing), numeracy skills, oral literacy skills (listening), and information seeking (navigation of Internet and facilities). It is available for use upon completion of a user agreement.


RTI uses qualitative and quantitative methods to develop, test, implement, and evaluate health communication interventions targeting various audiences. With backgrounds in public health, social sciences, and communication, our health communication researchers work on a range of topics—from health promotion to health care treatment—for federal agencies, states, foundations, and private sector organizations.

RTI's researchers are skilled in using qualitative and quantitative research methods, including:

  • Formative message development and testing
  • Message and materials development
  • Focus groups, in depth interviews, and case studies
  • Intervention design and implementation
  • Cognitive and usability testing
  • Process and outcome evaluations
  • Experimentally designed studies
  • Large-scale data collection and statistical analysis

We also use interactive forums, emerging technologies, and web-related resources to promote and evaluate health communication initiatives. Our research helps clients:

  • Identify appropriate target audiences and segmentation strategies
  • Perform theory-based intervention development
  • Determine optimal delivery channels
  • Conduct message framing, tailoring, bundling, and branding
  • Evaluate how well a health message or campaign reached the target audience
  • Assess a message or campaign's effects on audiences' knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and health outcomes


  • Health literacy and informed decision making
  • Cancer and other chronic diseases
  • HIV/AIDS and STDs
  • Public health preparedness and environmental health
  • Global health
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Media campaigns
  • Health care quality and patient safety

R. Craig Lefebvre awarded Philip Kotler Social Marketing Distinguished Service Award

R. Craig Lefebvre, Ph.D., lead change designer in the Center for Communication Science at RTI International, has been... Read more »


Lauren McCormack
Senior Director, Health Communication Program
Jennifer Uhrig
Deputy Director, Health Communication Program
Brian G. Southwell
Program Director, Science in the Public Sphere
Megan A. Lewis
Senior Research Scientist