As our faculty members are always doing great things, it is no surprise that one faculty member is able to connect the topics of e-cigarattes, mobile health clinics, and death studies quite seamlessly. Dr. Heather Carmack, an assistant professor in the department, recently sat down to discuss her recent projects and $50,000 grant that she received from the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products for her current research about e-cigarettes.
About three weeks ago, Dr. Carmack finished collecting data for her research about e-cigarette health messages among youth. Dr. Carmack, Dr. Georgia Polacek, Dr. Audrey Burnett, and Dr. Kathy Ott-Walter (professors in the JMU Department of Health Sciences), received a $50,000 grant and are working together to complete this research.
“We used part of the money to fund a graduate student. It’s always nice to be able to give back and help students,” said Carmack about dispersion of the funds.
The research that Dr. Carmack is conducting is to understand usage of e-cigarettes among youth and how being exposed to risk messages can or will evoke behavioral or attitudinal change. Dr. Carmack went on to explain that the first round of data collection has been completed for several months. The findings from the first part, a pre-test and post-test about intent to use and usage of e-cigarettes among youth has been presented at the Virginia Youth Tobacco Research Coalition Annual meeting.
“Part of our findings showed that risk messages produced the most change,” explained Carmack. The research findings will also be presented again this April at the D.C. Health Communication Conference, and received the Outstanding Research Presentation Award.
Dr. Carmack is also currently working with the Harvard Medical School’s Family Van, a mobile healthcare facility based in Boston.
“This van rides around the city and provides free healthcare to those who might need it. What I’m doing is analyzing interviews from patients that were conducted after receiving healthcare, including things like why did they go to the van and how was the experience,” further explained Carmack about her work with the van.
Dr. Carmack is also currently studying Medical Errors and Patient Safety, and is one of only two communication scholars in the United States doing so. She is also currently working on Death Studies research along with faulty member Dr. Jocelyn DeGroot of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“We aren’t morbid people or anything, we just like to talk about the things that no one else wants to talk about,” said Carmack as to why she is interested in death studies. “We look at how people communicate about death online, including grief support messages.”
Dr. Carmack hopes to receive an extension on the grant from the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products for more research. She also has a desire to use her research for a campaign against usage of e-cigarettes, as there are currently not any in the United States. Where there are great expectations, there are great successes, and we are confident that Dr. Carmack will continue on her journey and