Jennifer McWhirter

Assistant Professor   |   Hons. B.Sc., Ph.D. (University of Waterloo)


Jennifer McWhirter is a scientist, health communication expert, and Assistant Professor of Public Health Promotion and Communication in the Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph.

Research Interests

Dr. McWhirter's research focuses on the promotion of health and prevention of disease through effective communication, education, and policy. She is especially interested in the way the mass media disseminates health information and how visual images influence people's health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours. Dr. McWhirter's research has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and has been acknowledged in awards from the American Association for Cancer Education, the Canadian Federation of University Women, and the Sheela Basrur Centre. She sits on the editorial board for the Journal of Cancer Education and is the Co-Chair of the Ontario Sun Safety Working Group. 

Research Areas:

  • Skin cancer and UV exposure
  • Health communication and health literacy
  • Visual communication
  • Mass media and public health
  • Aesthetics, design, and health
  • Health policy


Dr. McWhirter's teaching interests, and competencies, are in public health and focus on health promotion and health communication. She teaches two graduate-level courses: Health Communication (POPM*6530) and Health Promotion (POPM*6510). 

Selected Publications

Below are example publications. A full list of Jennifer McWhirter's publications can be found here

  • McWhirter JE & Hoffman-Goetz L (2015). Coverage of skin cancer risk factors and UV behaviors in popular U.S. magazines from 2000-2012. Journal of Cancer Education. doi: 10.1007/s13187-015-0808-1
  • McWhirter JE & Hoffman-Goetz L (2015). Skin Deep: Coverage of skin cancer and recreational tanning in popular Canadian women’s magazines (2000-2012). Canadian Journal of Public Health, 106, e236-e243.
  • McWhirter JE & Hoffman-Goetz L (2015). Skin cancer early detection information in popular U.S. magazines (2000-2012). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 72, 1081-1082.
  • McWhirter JE & Hoffman-Goetz L (2015). Systematic review of population-based studies on the impact of images on UV attitudes and behaviours. Health Promotion International, 30, 397-410.
  • McWhirter JE & Hoffman-Goetz L (2014). A systematic review of visual image theory, assessment, and use in skin cancer and tanning research. Journal of Health Communication, 19, 738-757.
  • McWhirter JE & Hoffman-Goetz L (2013). Visual images for patient skin self-examination and melanoma detection: A systematic review of published studies. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 69, 47-55.
  • McWhirter JE, Todd L, & Hoffman-Goetz L (2011). Comparing written and oral measures of comprehension of cancer information by English-as-Second-Language Chinese immigrant women. Journal of Cancer Education, 26, 484-489.