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Sarah Elizabeth Gollust

Associate Professor of Health Policy, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

About Sarah

Gollust's research examines the influence of the media and public opinion in the health policy process, the dissemination of research into policymaking, and the politics of health policy. She has focused this research agenda on a range of timely topics in public health, including childhood obesity, cancer screening, the Affordable Care Act, and COVID-19. She is also a Senior Advisor for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, a national program based at the University of Minnesota that supports community-engaged health equity research.

In the News

Opinion: "UMN Bioethics Series to Address Opioid Abuse," Sarah Elizabeth Gollust, Minnesota Daily, January 24, 2018.
Quoted by in "UMN Experts: Opioid Addiction Crisis is a Public Health Emergency," UMN News, October 27, 2017.
Guest on MPR News , July 31, 2017.
Quoted by Sarah Frostenson in "Public Health Shouldn’t be Contentious. But It’s Incredibly Polarizing.," Vox, February 6, 2017.
Opinion: "A Surprising Factor That May Increase Voter Turnout: A Cancer Diagnosis," Sarah Elizabeth Gollust (with Wendy Rahn), The Washington Post, October 22, 2015.
Quoted by Robin Marantz Henig in "Early Push to Require the HPV Vaccine May Have Backfired," National Public Radio, July 14, 2015.
Quoted by in "MN Slims Its Obesity Rate," Minnesota Daily, April 22, 2015.
Opinion: "News Coverage of Vaccine Controversies Drives down Support for Vaccines," Sarah Elizabeth Gollust (with Erika Franklin Fowler), The Washington Post, February 9, 2015.
Research discussed by James Hamblin , in "Body Weight, Clash of Ideologies," The Atlantic, January 16, 2015.
Research discussed by Lorna Benson , in "Effectiveness of Obesity Message Varies by Political Leanings," Minnesota Public Radio, September 12, 2013.
Interviewed in "Minnesota Public Radio," Minnesota Public Radio, August 16, 2013.
Quoted by John-Manuel Andriote in "Curing Diabetes: How Type 2 Became an Expected Lifestyle," The Atlantic, February 8, 2012.
Research discussed by Rachel Dry, in "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.