Douglas W. Evans
Douglas W. Evans
School: Milken Institute School of Public Health
Department: Prevention and Community Health
Dr. W. Douglas Evans is Professor of Prevention and Community Health & Global Health in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University. Dr. Evans has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters on health education, communication, and social marketing behavior change interventions. He has authored and/or edited four books, most recently Social Marketing Research for Global Public Health from Oxford University Press in 2016.
Specifically, Dr. Evans’ work focuses on the translation of communication and marketing strategies into intervention strategies to promote adoption of health behaviors and avoidance of health risk behaviors, both in the United States and in low and middle income countries (LMIC) worldwide. He studies digital health technologies, including mobile phones and social media, and their application to changing health behavior. He applies these methodologies to reduce health disparities and improve health equity.
In 2022, Dr. Evans founded the Behavioral Research Insights & diGital Health Technology (BRIGHT) Institute at GW. The BRIGHT Institute supports research on digital health technologies and their application to public health, promoting healthy behaviors, and preventing disease. Digital health technologies include all digital media and devices, such as the internet, mobile phones, social media, apps, SMS. The BRIGHT Institute supports faculty conducting research on the use of these technologies as platforms for interventions, to conduct surveillance (infodemiology), and to evaluate the effectiveness of new digital media as they emerge.
Dr. Evans has pioneered the design, evaluation, and translation of marketing and branding techniques into public health practice. Since 1998, beginning with his work in tobacco control, he has developed health branding as an extension and application of existing theories of behavior change, including the Social Cognitive Theory and the Integrated Model. Specifically, Dr. Evans views brand equity, a multi-dimensional higher order construct that represents the mental associations that consumers form with a product, service, or behavior, as a mediator of behavior change. Dr. Evans has translated this construct from commercial applications into public health and has validated a multi-dimensional scale for use in intervention research in multiple domains of public health worldwide, including LMIC.
Dr. Evans has had multiple National Institutes of Health and Foundation funded grants involving the design and evaluation of digital health interventions, primarily in non-communicable disease prevention including cancer and tobacco control, and nutrition and physical activity promotion. He is currently principal investigator of the National Cancer Institute grant entitled Digital Media for Cancer Control: Randomized Controlled Trial and Dose-Response Effects (CA253013). This 5-year study (2020-2025) will refine existing digital media exposure and dosage measurement techniques and conduct a series of studies to evaluate the effects of anti-vaping and anti-smoking digital messages on young adult tobacco use behavior.
Dr. Evans is also MPI on a grant from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD; MD016829) to optimize and evaluate a previously developed mobile app to support exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) among African American/Black (AA/B) mothers as an adjunct to postpartum clinical care. Dr. Evans is leading an RCT to evaluate the app, entitled KULEA-NET (2022-2024). The app has several innovative features: a) EBF educational entertainment-based videos and testimonials from experienced AA/B mothers, and encouraging adoption and engagement with the KULEA-NET platform; b) Micro-learning related to EBF; c) Support network communication tools; d) Context-aware delivery framework; and e) a Virtual community support network bringing together AA/B mothers and their partners, spouses, and family members to foster a community of mutual support.
Dr. Evans is also PI of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate the gestational and antenatal care (gANC) program in two states in Nigeria (INV-043363). This study is to conduct a quasi-experimental evaluation of gANC answer questions about its effectiveness in different settings as well as how gANC can be designed to be successful in different settings. The study will run from 2023-2025.
Dr. Evans is also co-I of a grant from NIMHD (MD018296) entitled “Changing the Narrative on Firearms Violence: A Community Collaborative Intervention. “This intervention seeks to address one of the ways that structural marginalization and racism fuel, over time, community-normative perceived life-course and identity options for youth that highlight violence as an attainable means of gaining reputation, status, efficacy, and tangible assets. This narrative reframing effort involves the identification of non-violent alternative identities or “possible selves” that offer at least some of the benefits currently attributed to the use of violence, dissemination of youth-generated media through multiple community channels that highlight narratives and trajectories featuring these alternate identities, and commensurate support from multiple community organizations to help youth pursue those alternative pathways. The combined GWSPH and community team will conduct both phases in partnership with, and as part of the CLIF-VP as a cooperative agreement.
Dr. Evans was PI on a recently completed a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to design and evaluate the impact of a COVID-19 vaccination promotion social media campaign among health care workers in Nigeria (INV-033413). This project used the Facebook and Instagram (Meta) platforms to empower social influencers in Nigeria to promote the benefits of vaccination specifically among health care workers and seeks to overcome vaccine hesitancy in this diverse population. Dr. Evans led a 2-year impact evaluation (2021-2023) that used a novel social media recruitment and data collection strategy and evaluate the dose-response effects of pro-vaccination social media on vaccine hesitancy and COVID-19 vaccination rates in several large states in Nigeria.