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Study: The Influence of Rural Identity on Perceptions of Virtual Human Clinicians

Rural adults experience disparities in colorectal cancer screening, a trend even more distinct among rural Black adults. Healthcare disruptions caused by COVID-19 exacerbated inequities, heightening attention on virtual communication strategies to increase screening. Yet little is known about how rural adults perceive virtual human clinicians (VHC).

New research from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications STEM Translational Communication Center, “Can virtual human clinicians help close the gap in colorectal cancer screening for rural adults in the United States? The influence of rural identity on perceptions of virtual human clinicians,” published in the December 2022 edition of Preventive Medicine Reports, explores how to develop VHCs that individuals highly identified with rurality find attractive.

According to the researchers, “How a patient perceives the appearance of a health message source can influence credibility, and rural adults often rely on appearance cues to make judgments on trustworthiness. This study explored how differences in rural identity and related components influenced VHC appearance ratings. Participants with high rural identity rated the VHCs as more attractive, regardless of their race or VHC type.”

Authors include STEM Translational Communication Director Janet Krieger, postdoctoral associates Eric Cooks and Melissa Vilaro, Visiting Assistant Professor Elizabeth Flood-Grady, and doctoral students Naomi Parker and Palani Te.

Posted: November 3, 2022
Category: College News, Research News, STEM Center News
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