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Health Communication AI

Young woman reading message on her smartphone while standing in the living room. Her hair is dyed teal and her left arm has no forearm.
Combining the trust-building ability of digital opinion leaders with the scalability of AI to revolutionize health communication
  • Dates
    December 2023 – Present


Traditional health communication strategies struggle to address the challenges of an increasingly complex communication ecosystem.

A fragmented ecosystem, mis- and disinformation, a widening digital divide, and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) have made communication exceedingly complex. 

The public health sector is not immune to these complexities, particularly when individuals seek to take greater control over their health decisions by searching for information on the web and through social media, rather than consulting healthcare professionals. Traditional health communication strategies struggle to address these challenges, as they lack personalization, scale, and the empathetic touch needed to build trust between communities and health systems. 


NORC is creating Health Communication AI, a new approach to sharing personalized, empathetic, evidence-based information. 

To address modern health communication challenges at scale, NORC is creating Health Communication AI. By leveraging the extensive knowledge base of opinion leadership and integrating it with generative AI technology, Health Communication AI delivers relevant and empathetic health information when and where it is needed. 

Research shows that personalized and empathetically shared information can significantly boost motivation and compliance. With its capacity for social listening, sentiment analysis, and accurate generative response, Health Communication AI is poised to address critical gaps in digital health communication. 


We've shared our insights in journal articles and at conferences to drive more innovation and research around Health Communication AI.  

Our ongoing project is developing an AI-integrated system grounded in the latest health data and guided by input from the communities we want to serve.  

We believe that Health Communication AI will enable an entirely new scientific agenda that includes the development of: 

  • New and updated theoretical frameworks 
  • Pilot and feasibility studies to measure the effectiveness of such an integrated AI system on accuracy, empathy, and user response 
  • Longitudinal studies to examine impact on health behaviors 
  • Implications and recommendations for policy, ethics, and privacy, as well as practical application

We have shared our insights through journal articles and at conferences. Our hope is that Health Communication AI fosters innovation in public health and medical communication and enables additional research to create an evidence base for this approach.  

Amelia Burke-Garcia, PhD, NORC’s director of digital strategy and outreach, and Rebecca Soskin Hicks, MD, expert advisor to NORC, act as co-principal investigators and co-project directors on this project.

If you want to be a part of Health Communication AI, contact

Project Leads


Health Communication AI is an innovative approach that NORC is spearheading which aims to improve public health communication and combat health misinformation. It builds upon evidence from the opinion leadership knowledgebase, further extending recent work that has examined opinion leadership in the digital age by integrating emerging generative AI technology. As such, Health Communication AI creates personalized and empathetic interactions in order to enhance and scale the dissemination of evidence-based health information.

The project was inspired by the challenges faced in health communication, including increasing distrust of our public health and health care systems, the rapid and vast spread of misinformation, and the difficulty of engaging with diverse communities at scale. Combining Amelia Burke Garcia’s research on social media influencers as the newest opinion leaders and Rebecca Soskin Hicks’ experience in AI advancements and digital products for health communication provides a unique opportunity to innovatively address these challenges.

Health Communication AI necessitates a robust research agenda—one that NORC is leading through its Health Communication Science work. This agenda includes conducting feasibility and pilot studies to better understand what works and what does not in this new environment, as well as longitudinal studies to examine long-term impacts on health decision-making and behaviors. It also includes work to unveil implications and recommendations related to policy, ethics, and privacy, as well as practical applications.

By leveraging AI's ability to analyze vast amounts of data and generate responses that are both accurate and tailored to an individual's concerns, Health Communication AI can provide credible, evidence-based information more effectively than traditional methods. This proactive approach helps counteract misinformation by ensuring that accurate information is present in the conversation—when and where it is happening on social media and in digital spaces—and by making the information more accessible and engaging through empathetic and unbiased communication.

Health Communication AI is an integrated AI system, functioning as an AI agent that executes social listening, sentiment analysis, and provides text responses through a fine-tuned chatbot. The chatbot engages with individual users on social media and optionally through websites, the GPT store or apps.

Yes, the AI models can be trained on specific health topics, cultural considerations, and languages, making it adaptable to various public health contexts. The evidence base on which it is fine-tuned informs the chatbot’s development, ensuring it aligns with health communication best practices and up-to-date health and medical data. This flexibility ensures that the communication is relevant and effective across different populations and health challenges.

Ethical considerations include ensuring data privacy, avoiding bias in AI-generated content, and maintaining transparency about the use of AI in communications. Developing and implementing guidelines that safeguard individuals' rights and ensure the responsible use of AI technology are central to NORC’s work on Health Communication AI.

We are actively seeking partners who want to invest in the development of this idea, co-design and participate in pilot programs, provide expertise and feedback, and explore collaboration opportunities for deploying Health Communication AI within their networks or communities. Contact for more information.