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K-State Today

October 25, 2016



Nancy Muturi presents five papers at two international conferences

By Sarah Hancock

Nancy Muturi, professor in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, presented five papers at two international conferences earlier this year. She traveled to the International Communication Association in Fukuoka, Japan, where she presented "Motivation for Obesity Reduction among Adolescents in Low-Income Communities in Three U.S. States,” "Students' Perceptions about Public Relations and Diversity-Related Issues" and "Perceptions of Gender Issues in the Public Relations Fields."

In the first paper, Muturi analyzed results from data gathered among adolescents in Kansas, Ohio and South Dakota that demonstrated a relationship between adolescents' perceptions of support for physical activity in their communities and their motivation for health. Motivations of adolescents also were associated with outcome expectancies, which differed significantly by state, and influenced by peers' motivations. The study recommended focusing communication efforts on nutritional and physical activity support and on adolescents' expectations to motivate health and obesity reduction. The other papers, which were co-authored with graduate student Ge Zhu, provided insight on recruitment strategies for public relations education based on university student perceptions of diversity and gender issues in the field.

The International Communication Association accepts roughly 36 percent of papers submitted through a triple-blind review process. The annual meeting attracts scholars not only from journalism, mass communication and communication studies, but also those with interest in media and communication and persuasion theories and research from fields such as psychology, political science, gender studies and health sciences.

Muturi also traveled to the International Association for Media and Communication Research conference in Leicester, U.K., to present "Self-Efficacy for Food Choice and Healthy Eating in Preventing Adolescent Obesity" and "Participatory Research in Health Communication: Challenges for Measuring Outcomes." K-State co-authors were Tandalayo Kidd, associate professor, and Erika Lindshield, project coordinator, from the food, nutrition, dietetics and health department in the College of Human Ecology, along with journalism and mass communications graduate student Tazrin Khan.

One of the papers has been published in the Frontiers in Communication — Health Communication Journal. The other is forthcoming in Journal of Communication in Healthcare: Strategies, Media, and Engagement in Global Health. Data reported in these papers are from a USDA-funded project on childhood obesity that a team led by Kidd has implemented in Kansas, Ohio and South Dakota. The team continues to pursue further grants to expand the project to other states.

Muturi said the collaboration has been valuable.

"Working with a team of experts in human nutrition and extension has enhanced my understanding of the health topics that I write about, and presenting it at various conferences reaffirms that communication is applicable in almost every area that involves human behavior. I think every project should have a communication component if dealing with people in one way or another," Muturi said.

"The interdisciplinary collaborations that K-State continues to promote increase our productivity as a team since we can target different outlets. It is all about teamwork, and that includes a large number of graduate students that we work with," she said.

Muturi's travel was supported by the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications and by a Faculty Development Award from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs in fall 2015.

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