The Department of Communication hosts the biennial Kentucky Conference on Health Communication (KCHC). The first KCHCPersuasive Communication and Drug Abuse Prevention, was held in 1989 with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That conference was a small, invitation-only event focused entirely on research in substance abuse prevention. Since that beginning, our conference has evolved into a venue for health communication researchers, practitioners, and students to come together to share research on a variety of health-related topics and discuss current health communication issues, as well as develop working relationships to promote the health communication research agenda. Conference topics now range from individual-level health behavior risk reduction (e.g., substance abuse prevention, HIV/STD prevention, patient-provider communication) to media and technology-level issues (e.g., interactive health communication and informatics, media advocacy, public communication campaigns).

KCHC is held in Lexington, Kentucky, and is scheduled over three days in April during even years. Competitive paper, poster, and panel sessions, workshops/panels on topical issues, and a limited number of invited speakers comprise the conference. The conference features a keynote speaker, awards for the top student paper and top young scholar paper (up to five years post-PhD), and a Donohew Scholar award.

Beginning in 2012, funding for KCHC and its partner conference, DCHC, was made possible in part by a grant (R13CA168316) from the National Cancer Institute  and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade name, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award
Lewis Donohew, Professor Emeritus, was on the faculty in the Department of Communication, University of Kentucky, from 1964 to 1999. His research focused on finding ways to increase the persuasive effectiveness of anti-drug messages. He was instrumental in bringing more than $30 million in federal funding to the University and played a large part in establishing the health communication program for which the department is known. In 2001, he received the NCA–ICA Outstanding Health Scholar award. Although retired from the University of Kentucky, Dr. Donohew remains active in funded research, serving as co-principal investigator or consultant on various projects.

The Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award was established in Dr. Donohew’s name in 1998 to recognize outstanding research contributions to the health communication field made during the biennium preceding each conference. The list of award recipients includes some of the most highly funded and recognized communication scholars in the world:

 
2016 Seth Noar
2014 Jeff Niederdeppe
2012 David Buller
2010 Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles
2008 Rick Street
2006 Mohan Dutta
2004 Gary Kreps
2002 Everett Rogers
2000 Kim Witte
1998 Michael Slater