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Sarah Elizabeth Gollust

Associate Professor of Public Health, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Chapter Member: Minneapolis-St. Paul SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Sarah

Gollust is a social scientist studying the intersections of communication, politics, and health policy. Her work examines the processes through which health information gets translated into the media, shapes public attitudes and opinions, and influences the health policy process. By describing the political, social, ethical, and psychological factors that moderate this process – and often pose as barriers – her research yields insight into how communication to the public and policymakers can be more effective. She has applied this research approach to several important public health challenges, including policies to address obesity, health disparities, the Affordable Care Act, and cancer screening and prevention. She weaves this expertise into her teaching in public health ethics and health policy analysis. Since 2010, she has shared her work with several advocacy groups and policymakers in Minnesota and has presented for two national Institute of Medicine working groups.

In the News

"UMN Bioethics Series to Address Opioid Abuse," Sarah Elizabeth Gollust, Minnesota Daily, January 24, 2018.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust quoted , "UMN Experts: Opioid Addiction Crisis is a Public Health Emergency" UMN News, October 27, 2017.
Guest to discuss next steps for the United States health care system on MPR News , Sarah Elizabeth Gollust, July 31, 2017.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust quoted on how public opinion shapes public health by Sarah Frostenson, "Public Health Shouldn’t be Contentious. But It’s Incredibly Polarizing." Vox, February 6, 2017.
"A Surprising Factor That May Increase Voter Turnout: A Cancer Diagnosis," Sarah Elizabeth Gollust (with Wendy Rahn), The Washington Post, October 22, 2015.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust quoted on state mandates for HPV vaccine by Robin Marantz Henig, "Early Push to Require the HPV Vaccine May Have Backfired" National Public Radio, July 14, 2015.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust quoted on state initiatives that aim to reduce obesity, "MN Slims Its Obesity Rate" Minnesota Daily, April 22, 2015.
"News Coverage of Vaccine Controversies Drives down Support for Vaccines," Sarah Elizabeth Gollust (with Erika Franklin Fowler), The Washington Post, February 9, 2015.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust's research on the differences in public understanding of the causes of obesity discussed by James Hamblin , "Body Weight, Clash of Ideologies," The Atlantic, January 16, 2015.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust's research on public health messages discussed by Lorna Benson , "Effectiveness of Obesity Message Varies by Political Leanings," Minnesota Public Radio, September 12, 2013.
Interview on health insurance advertising Sarah Elizabeth Gollust, Minnesota Public Radio, August 16, 2013.
Guest to discuss how political ideology shapes public opinion on health on Access Minnesota, Sarah Elizabeth Gollust, January 6, 2013.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust quoted on the media’s role in stigmatizing health conditions by John-Manuel Andriote, "Curing Diabetes: How Type 2 Became an Expected Lifestyle" The Atlantic, February 8, 2012.
Sarah Elizabeth Gollust's research on framing public opinion of health conditions discussed by Rachel Dry, "In Health Care Debate, Words Matter," The Washington Post, October 18, 2009.


"The Content and Effect of Politicized Health Controversies" (with Erika Franklin Fowler). The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658, no. 1 (2015): 155-171.
Describes the implications of two public health cases for which significant political controversy has emerged in recent years: mammography screening and the HPV vaccine.
"First Impressions: Geographic Variation in Media Messages During the First Phase of ACA Implementation" (with Colleen L. Barry, Jeff Niederdeppe, Laura Baum, and Erika Franklin Fowler). Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 39, no. 6 (2014): 1253-1262.
Presents the results of a comprehensive content analysis of local televised media (news and advertisements) during the first phase of Affordable Care Act implementation.
"Understanding Public Resistance to Messages about Health Disparities" (with Joseph N. Cappella). Journal of Health Communication 104, no. 5 (2014): 847-853.
Investigates the mechanisms through which people filter messages about health disparities through their partisan and ideological inclinations.
"Framing the Consequences of Childhood Obesity to Increase Public Support for Obesity Prevention Policy" (with Jeff Niederdeppe and Colleen L. Barry). American Journal of Public Health 103, no. 11 (2013): 96-102.
Presents evidence for how messages about the consequences of childhood obesity, particularly the consequences on the U.S. military workforce, affects public attitudes about the problem of obesity and how to address it.
"Who Deserves Health Care? Effects of Causal Attributions and Group Cues on Public Attitudes about Responsibility for Health Care Costs" (with Julia Lynch). Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law 36, no. 6 (2011): 1061-1095.
Evaluates how signals about racial- and class-group membership as well as causal attributes for disease shape public attitudes about deservingness for financial support of health care.
"The Polarizing Effect of News Media Messages about the Social Determinants of Health" (with Paula M. Lantz and Peter A. Ubel). American Journal of Public Health 99, no. 12 (2009): 2160-2167.
Describes how messages about the social determinants of health – focusing on type 2 diabetes –lead to divergent responses among political partisans.