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Vanessa Boudewyns

Vanessa Boudewyns

Research scientist


PhD, Communication, University of Maryland, College Park
MA, Mass Communication, University of Minnesota
BA, Strategic Communications, University of Minnesota


Vanessa Boudewyns conducts interdisciplinary research on message design and behavior prediction and change. She has advanced skills in experimental design, survey development, quantitative data collection and analysis, process and outcome evaluations, and systematic reviews.

A member of our Science in the Public Sphere Research Program, she uses theories of behavior change, information processing, and message effects to understand, develop, and evaluate mass media campaigns, advertising messages, and risk communication. More recently, Dr. Boudewyns has also applied this interdisciplinary approach to better understand the impact of misinformation and how to effectively respond to misinformation.

Dr. Boudewyns has extensive experience leading federally funded experimental studies to examine consumer and health care professionals processing and understanding of prescription drug promotional materials in order to advance regulatory science. In this role, she manages, designs, conducts, and analyzes quantitative and mixed-methods research studies and disseminates results to the research community. She currently leads an effort for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test consumers’ and physicians’ interpretations of marketing claims in prescription drug websites. Also for the FDA, she leads two studies focused on the promotion of oncology medication. One study examines physicians’ interpretation of preliminary clinical data encountered through promotional materials for cancer treatments, and the other explores whether consumers understand the clinical trial endpoints conveyed in direct-to-consumer TV advertising.

For over a decade, Dr. Boudewyns has also contributed to research focused on HIV prevention and testing. In her time at RTI, she has conducted process and outcome evaluations for national HIV/AIDS social marketing campaigns for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has served as lead evaluator on four campaigns targeting the general public, as well as Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) (“Reasons/Razones”) and African American MSM (“Testing Makes Us Stronger”). Currently, she is the lead evaluator for two ongoing Act Against AIDS campaigns—“Start Talking. Stop HIV.” and “Doing It.”

She is a member of the International Communication Association, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the Society for Medical Decision Making, and serves as a guest reviewer for the journals Health Communication and International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing. Dr. Boudewyns has published findings from her research in peer-reviewed journals and has presented at multiple national and international research conferences.

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