Grantee: Amy McQueen

Amy McQueen

Amy McQueen, Ph.D.

Social Psychologist and Behavioral Scientist
  • Washington University in St. Louis

Amy McQueen, Ph.D., has integrated a "micro" (psychosocial) understanding of what factors are critical for individual behavior change with a "macro" (public health) approach to identifying health behaviors that would benefit from the uptake of evidence-based interventions to make a significant impact on population health outcomes and disparities. Her current research has focused on designing more effective interventions for increasing cancer screening and smoking cessation among diverse audiences. Dr. McQueen's expertise lies in testing complex conceptual models to better understand the mediated and moderated effects of interventions and behavioral determinants on individuals' health behaviors over time. She examines the complex inter-relations of role constructs with other variables, such as perceived susceptibility and the identification with role models.

In her prior research, Dr. McQueen has compared narrative and non-narrative communication for promoting health behavior and observed that narratives elicit stronger cognitive and affective responses, which have complex indirect effects on message processing and determinants of behavior. For example, she found that breast cancer survivor stories increased viewers' identification with the survivors, which in turn increased counterargument of the messages, which was related to more perceived barriers and more cancer fatalism. In a content analysis of personal narratives posted online describing individual experience with colonoscopy, she found differences in story content by screening result (cancer diagnosis vs. no cancer). Cumulatively, these studies led to the current study.

Few studies have examined the influential ingredients of narratives or compared different role models. In her current HCIRB-funded study, Dr. McQueen examines differences in cognitive and affective reactions among individuals not adherent to colorectal cancer screening guidelines and expose them to a narrative encouraging colorectal cancer screening from either a colon cancer survivor or a colon cancer screener who did not have cancer. Both types of role models may influence intention to screen but are hypothesized to affect different mediators. Understanding how individuals respond to health risk narratives from different messengers has significant implications for the effectiveness of media- or electronic-based health communication as well as health care provider recommendations and counseling.

I am passionate about designing and testing more effective interventions for those who struggle to make health behavior changes and to make health a priority.”