Xiaoquan Zhao

Xiaoquan Zhao

Xiaoquan Zhao


Health communication, persuasion, media effects, information seeking, tobacco prevention, and climate change communication

Xiaoquan Zhao received his Ph.D. (2005) from the Annenberg School for Communication, the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on health message design and effects, evaluation of public communication campaigns, health information seeking, information disparities affecting vulnerable populations, news effects on health and risk perceptions, and the role of the self in health behavior and persuasive communication. The substantive topics of his work include smoking, drug use, cancer, medical adherence, and climate change. Dr. Zhao’s recent projects include research on the effectiveness of graphic warning labels on cigarette packets, message testing and outcome evaluation for FDA's youth tobacco prevention campaigns, and studies of self-affirmation as a method to reduce resistance to health and risk communication messages. Dr. Zhao’s has published numerous articles in leading journals of communication, public health, and environmental science, such as the Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Communication Research, Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, and Public Understanding of Science. His work has received support from both public and private funding sources. In 2013-2014, he worked as a Tobacco Regulatory Science Fellow at the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. Since 2014, he has served as subject matter expert and scientific adviser to the Division of Research and Evaluation in the Office of Health Communication and Education at FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, providing wide-ranging research support for FDA’s ongoing national tobacco education campaigns.

Dr. Zhao joined GMU in fall 2005. The courses he offers include health communication, persuasion, foundations of mass communication, and research methods.

Current Research



Selected Publications

Zhao, X., & Peterson, E. B. (2017). Effects of temporal framing on response to antismoking messages: The mediating role of perceived relevance. Journal of Health Communication, 22(1), 37–44. https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2016.1250844

Farrelly, M. C., Duke, J., Nonnemaker, J., MacMonegle, A. J., Alexander, T. N., Zhao, X., Delahanty, J. C., Rao, P., & Allen, J. A. (2017). Association between The Real Cost media campaign and smoking initiation among youth – United States, 2014-2016. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 66(02), 47-50.

Zhao, X., Alexander, T. N., Hoffman, L., Jones, C., Delahanty, J., Walker, M., … Talbert, E. (2016). Youth receptivity to FDA’s The Real Cost Tobacco Prevention Campaign: Evidence from message pretesting. Journal of Health Communication, 21(11), 1153–1160. https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2016.1233307

Zhao, X., & Cai, X. (2016). The association between exposure to “Tips” and smoking-related outcomes among adolescents in the United States. Health Education Research, 31(5), 614–623. https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyw037

Zhao, X., Rolfe-Redding, J., & Kotcher, J. (2016). Partisan differences in the relationship between newspaper coverage and concern over global warming. Public Understanding of Science, 25, 543-559. Doi: 10.1177/0963662514558992

Zhao, X., Mao, Q., Kreps, G, Yu, G., Li, Y., Chou, W-Y., Persoskie, A., Nie, X, Xu, Z., Song, M., & Kim, P. (2015). Cancer information seekers in China: A preliminary profile. Journal of Health Communication, 20(5), 616–626. http://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2015.1012244

Zhao, X., Peterson, E., Kim, W., & Rolfe-Redding, J. (2014). Effects of self-affirmation on daily vs. occasional smokers’ responses to graphic warning labels. Communication Research, 41(8), 1137-1158. doi: 10.1177/0093650212465433

Zhao, X., Nan, X., Yang, B., & Iles, I. A. (2014). Cigarette warning labels: Graphics, framing, and identity. Health Education, 114(2), 101–117. doi:10.1108/HE-06-2013-0024

Zhao, X., Maibach, E., Gandy, J., Witte, J., Cullen, H., Klinger, B., Rowan, K., Witte, J., & Pyle, A. (2014). Climate change education through TV weathercasts: Results of a field experiment. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 95, 117-130. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00144.1

Grants and Fellowships

Principal Investigator

Advising Research and Evaluation for FDA’s Youth and Young Adults Tobacco Education Campaigns. (2016-2020). Food and Drug Administration.

Communication Consultant

Virginia Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (VA-SBIRT) Project. (PI: Lora Peppard; 2016-2021; consulting during 2017). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Principal Investigator

Research Support for FDA Youth Tobacco Education Campaigns. (2014-2016). Food and Drug Administration.

Principal Investigator

FDA Tobacco Regulatory Science Fellowship Grant. (2013-2014). Food and Drug Administration/Institute of Medicine.

Courses Taught

COMM 230- Case Studies in Persuasion

COMM 400- Introduction to Communication Research

COMM 302- Foundations of Mass Communication

COMM 430- Persuasion

COMM 600- Research Methods

COMM 620- Health Communication

COMM 632- Persuasion

COMM 750- Advanced Research Methods

Dissertations Supervised

Christian R. Seiter, The Death Message Processing Model: A Mixed Methods Evaluation of a Humor-Based Approach to Motivate Advance Care Planning (2021)

Di Pei , Chinese Parents’ Medical Decisions for Children: Why do they Choose Self-Medication with Antibiotics? (2020)

Xing Tong, Fatalism and the Processing of Fear Appeals Among Chinese: An Exploratory Study in the Context of Lung Cancer Prevention (2017)

Brenda L. MacArthur, Communication Beyond the Clinical Interaction: Delivering Comprehensive Healthcare to Patients with Intellectual Disabilities (2017)

Emily Peterson , Toward the Development of a Physician Training Curriculum to Improve Discussions about Electronic Cigarettes with Adolescent Athlete Patients (2016)

Wan-Lin Chang , Taiwanese Mother-Daughter Breast Cancer Communication and Its Influence on Daughters’ Prevention Behaviors (2015)