The art and science of effective communication

Our clients come to us to help define a problem, identify the root causes of a problem, determine how communication can address the problem, and evaluate whether the communication was implemented as intended and resulted in meaningful changes to key outcomes. From there, we recommend how the communication can be enhanced for future impact.

We design and conduct:

  • Formative Research Studies
  • Insight Gathering
  • Audience Segmentation
  • Pre-testing and Pilot Testing
  • Randomized Experiments
  • Media Measurement and Monitoring
  • Process and Outcome Evaluation


Project Highlight

Oncology Indications

Oncology products are increasingly being promoted to consumers via DTC television advertising. Oncology indications are often complicated and supported by different clinical endpoints such as overall survival, overall response rate, and progression-free survival that are referenced in the DTC TV ads. The first objective of this project is to determine whether disclosing information about the nature of the endpoints that support the indications for oncology products helps consumers understand the drug's efficacy (this is examined in Study 1).

Because of the length of some indications, sponsors sometimes convey some of the indication in superimposed text rather than in the audio in the TV ads. The second objective is to test whether consumers adequately comprehend indication statements when portions of the indication are presented only in the superimposed text of television ads while other information is conveyed in the audio (this is examined in Study 2).

In each of the studies we created television ads for a fictional prescription drug indicated to treat lung cancer (a solid tumor) and other television ads for a fictional prescription drug indicated to treat multiple myeloma (a hematological cancer). We are currently analyzing the results from the two main studies.

Project Highlight

Leveraging Media Coalitions to Advance Prevention Messages among Populations Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19

To combat COVID-19-related health inequities, we conducted a series of rapid formative research activities to inform a culturally responsive media relations strategy that provides populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with the information they need to stay safe. First, we reviewed publicly available COVID-19 data to identify and prioritize audience segments for media outreach based on disease burden and vaccination rates. Next, we conducted a literature review and media content analysis to understand priority audiences’ COVID-19 vaccine-related information needs and the most effective communication strategies to reach these audiences. Finally, informed by an asset inventory and gap analysis, we recommended media outreach activities to increase vaccine uptake among priority audiences. 

An African-American woman doctor talks with members of a health care team.

Project Highlight

Healthy Communities/Be Well Communities Evaluations 

Be Well Communities™ is The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's place-based strategy for cancer prevention and control, working with communities to promote wellness and reduce modifiable risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases. This initiative unites individuals, schools, workplaces, government agencies, health care providers and policymakers to plan and carry out sustainable, community-led solutions that will make positive, long-lasting changes in people’s lives. Critical to the success of this program is the external evaluation carried out by RTI International. Since 2017, RTI has conducted a comprehensive technical evaluation of the overall Be Well Communities model and each individual community. Results from the first two years of implementation show that this model has had a positive impact on the health and wellness of the community.

Project Highlight

Digital Mental Health Tools for Marginalized Parents

The Child Mind Institute aims to reach hard-to-reach parents who are seeking guidance and resources regarding their child’s mental health. To identify information needs and dissemination preferences, RTI conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with Black parents, Spanish-speaking families, and those who are geographically isolated. This information was used to inform the Child Mind Institute’s Family Resource Center rebrand. Usability testing sessions among priority audience members was also conducted with webpage low fidelity prototypes, to better understand how users would use the materials. Ultimately, the Child Mind Institute launched the Resource Finder, Article Page Quick Reads (example), and Connect to Care in both English and Spanish, within the new Family Resource Center.