Hye-Ryeon Lee, PhD

Hye-ryeon Lee, PhD

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Associate Member, Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Professor and Chair, School of Communication and Information, College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

PhD, Communication, Stanford University
MA, Political Science, Stanford University
MA, Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin at Madison


2016 - Commendation from President Park Geun-hye of Republic of Korea for contribution to National Unification Advisory Council
2015 - Distinguished Service Award (Korean American Communication Association)
2011 - Top Paper Award (Environmental Communication Division, Western States Communication Association)
2004 - Koa Anvil Award (Public Relations Society of America, Hawaii Chapter)
1995 - Dianne Cummings Cancer Prevention Fellowship (Arizona Cancer Center)

Research Focus

Dr. Hye-ryeon Lee teaches and conducts research in the area of health communication. Her research focuses on investigating normative influences in the context of health: How people form perceptions about social norms regarding health behaviors, and how these perceptions influence their own health behaviors in the end.

The process through which individuals decide to adopt or to give up behaviors that affect their health is complicated, with various personal, social, and environmental factors exerting influence. A key factor is the perception about social norms since what people believe to be socially acceptable will influence their behavior. Communication plays an important role in the normative influence process as norms are formed, reformed, and maintained through interpersonal and mass-mediated communication. Her research endeavors represent an effort to further our understanding of the role of communication in normative influence processes through policy, culture, and mass media.

Much of her research is conducted in combination with actual communication interventions that are set in the community setting. Dr. Lee has worked on various intervention projects to assess effectiveness of community-based interventions for tobacco, youth violence and HIV prevention in California, Arizona and Hawaiʻi. Tobacco control and prevention has been an important focus of her research since 1994. She has directed many research projects in tobacco use prevention as well as in cessation, working with diverse types of populations including children, young adults, Korean immigrants, and general public in California, Arizona and Hawaiʻi. She also conducts research to investigate the mechanism through which culture and communication influence health behaviors among socially and culturally diverse populations.

Selected Publications

Cassel K, Willingham M, Lee HR, Somera LP, Badowski G, & Pagano I (2020). Acculturation and cancer risk behaviors among Pacific Islanders in Hawaiʻi. Ethn Dis;30(4),593-602.

Cassel K, Lee HR, Somera L, Badowski G, & Hagiwara M (2020). Cultural considerations for conducting the Health Information National Trends Survey with Micronesian communities: Lessons from a qualitative study. Hawaiʻi J Health Amp; soc welf.; 79(6 Supple 2), 64-69.

Lee HR, Lee HE, Cassel K, Hagiwara M, & Somera LP. (2019). Protective effect of biculturalism for health amongst minority youth: The case of Pacific Islander migrant youths in Hawaiʻi. Br J Soc Work;49(4),1003-1022.

Somera LP, Lee HR, Badowski G, Cassel K. (2016). Health information seeking, source trust, and culture: comparative analysis of health information trends and needs between Guam and the United States. J Health Commun;21(4),469-478.

Lee HR, Lee HE, Choi J, Kim JH, Han HL. (2014). Social media use, body image and psychological well-being: A cross-cultural comparison of Korea and the United States. J Health Commun;19(12),1343-1358.

Publication list via PubMed