Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Brian D. Ballentine.

Committee Co-Chair

Catherine Gouge

Committee Member

Scott Wible


Health-communication campaigns have long operated according to the belief that individuals can be persuaded to change hazardous health practices through education about the risks or benefits of certain behaviors. Health-communication scholars and practitioners have ascribed to a theory of behavior change that posits acquiring knowledge about certain health issues leads to changes in attitudes and, ultimately, changes in personal health practices. Over the past decade, however, scholars have identified a KAP-gap, as they often see a wide gulf between an individual's Knowledge and Attitudes and his or her health Practice. Recently, rhetorical scholars have begun to view this KAP-gap through the lens of rhetorical theory, identifying reasons why knowledge alone is not enough to effect behavior change and building alternative models of persuasion that could more effectively support public health campaigns. My thesis takes up these same questions: What do current models and theories of human behavior and persuasion that shape health-communication campaigns look like? What can rhetorical theory contribute to understandings of how people can be persuaded and why they change behaviors? And how could these ideas give shape to a new method for designing and implementing public-health campaigns? Through an interdisciplinary approach, I provide a proposal for a tailored interactive health communication website that clearly demonstrates how rhetoric, viewed as a fluid dynamic between practical art and hermeneutic tool, can help bridge the gap between knowledge and behavior change.