July Ask the Expert W. Douglas Evans, Ph.D.
Dr. Evans has built his public health career on an insight the private sector has long understood - marketing and communication matter. A research psychologist, his work focuses on two key areas: building the evidence base to establish the effectiveness of marketing and message strategies in promoting healthy behaviors, and expanding the use of effective commercial marketing strategies to public health, especially to reach socially and economically disadvantaged populations.
To communicate effectively, we need research to demonstrate what works, argues Dr. Evans. "We should operate from the premise that public health can effectively adapt commercial branding strategies using the powerful tools of new media - such as viral and stealth marketing. We should grow the evidence base about how these strategies work and whether they lead to improved behavioral outcomes and long-term health impacts." Dr. Evans joined SPHHS in 2008 from the Public Health and Environment Division of RTI International, where he was vice president. In that capacity, he led formative research in South Africa on childhood obesity and supervised health marketing outcome evaluation studies on pandemic influenza, HIV/AIDS, injury prevention and risk communication in the US. He has also assessed campaigns focused on tobacco and cancer control; nutrition, physical activity and obesity; diabetes; asthma; and reproductive health. Dr. Evans is also an expert panel member for the health marketing and health communication review of the Guide to Community Preventive Services.