CofC Logo

Beth Sundstrom

Assistant Professor

Address: 7 College Way, Room 306
Phone: (843) 953-7599

Beth L. Sundstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H. joined the Department of Communication in the fall of 2012 as an Assistant Professor specializing in Strategic Health Communication. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on such topics as strategic communication, social marketing, and health communication. Dr. Sundstrom received the 2016 ExCEL Award for Outstanding Faculty of the Year in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2016, she was named one of Charlie Magazine’s 50 Most Progressive individuals in Charleston for breaking new ground in women’s health.

Dr. Sundstrom is the Co-Director of the Women’s Health Research Team (WHRT) and a member of the graduate faculty, University of Charleston, South Carolina. She is on the faculty of the public health major and serves on the public health steering committee. She is also a faculty affiliate in the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Dr. Sundstrom holds an adjunct assistant professor appointment at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and serves as a SmartState faculty associate in the Technology Center to Promote Healthy Lifestyles at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina (USC). Dr. Sundstrom has professional experience in public relations and continues to consult in strategic health communication. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor for Brown University’s Summer@Brown Program.

Dr. Sundstrom received a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a specialization in health communication and public relations. Prior to earning her doctorate, she completed a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) from Brown University with a specialization in health communication and women’s health, and graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University with a B.A. in political science.

Her research interests include health communication, social marketing, and women’s health. Dr. Sundstrom is a multiple methods researcher, with expertise in survey design methodology and qualitative methods, particularly interviews and focus groups. Her research has been published in top-tier journals, including Contraception, the Journal of Health Communication, Health Communication, the Journal of Social Marketing, and Social Marketing Quarterly, among others. She is the author of Reproductive Justice and Women's Voices: Health Communication across the Lifespan (2015), which offers an in-depth analysis of women’s reproductive health, including contraceptive use dynamics, pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. She has also authored and co-authored several book chapters, encyclopedia entries, scientific abstracts, and conference papers presented at the International Communication Association (ICA), the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), the Social Marketing in Public Health Conference, the North American Forum on Family Planning and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, among others. Dr. Sundstrom’s public health communication campaigns have received national recognition, including the 2014 multi-media award by the American Public Health Association (APHA).

Dr. Sundstrom advises student research, including Bachelor’s Essays, and SURF Grants, and is always looking for motivated students to join her Women’s Health Research Team. Current research involves web-based surveys and qualitative research to investigate women’s reproductive health.

Dr. Sundstrom is active in the community, serving on the executive committee of Cervical Cancer-Free South Carolina (CCFSC), the board of Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council, the community advisory board of MUSC’s EMPOWERR Program Capacity Expansion Project, and the advisory board of the South Carolina Cervical Cancer Awareness Initiative, among others. Dr. Sundstrom is a member of the Lowcountry Phi Beta Kappa Association and the South Carolina Coalition for Healthy Families. She was the 2015 recipient of the South Carolina Coalition for Healthy Families’ Crescent Award for her extraordinary leadership, participation, and contributions to comprehensive reproductive health in South Carolina


Ph.D., Health Communication and Public Relations, University of Maryland, College Park 

M.P.H., Health Communication and Women’s Health, Brown University

B.A., Political Science, Tulane University 

Research Interests

  • Health communication
  • Social marketing
  • Women’s health

Courses Taught

  • HEAL 215: Introduction to Public Health
  • COMM 310: Message Design and Influence in Strategic Communication 
  • COMM 336: Addressing Problems in Context: Strategic Communication & Social Marketing 
  • COMM 336: Addressing Problems in Context: Health Communication 
  • COMM 410: Analysis of Communication in Practice: New Media Writing and Strategic Communication
  • COMM 410: Analysis of Communication in Practice: Social Media Marketing 
  • COMM 480/481: Capstone in Communication: Health Communication
  • COMM 520: Health Communication Campaigns 
  • COMM 514: Social Media 
  • COMM 580: Seminar in Communication: Social Marketing


* = student co-authors

Sundstrom, B. (2015). Reproductive Justice and Women’s Voices: Health Communication across the Lifespan. Lexington Books: An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., Lanham, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-4985-0313-6.

Sundstrom, B., *Meier, S., *Anderson, M., *Booth, K., *Cooper, L., *Flock, E., *Payne, J., & Hirway, P. (In Press). Voices of the “99 Percent:” The role of online narrative to improve health care. The Permanente Journal.

Sundstrom, B., Ferrara, M., DeMaria, A.L., *Payne, J. B., & *Baker-Whitcomb, A. (In Press). Integrating pregnancy ambivalence and effectiveness in contraceptive choice. Health Communication.

*Payne, J. B., Sundstrom, B., & DeMaria, A.L. (Published online 2016). Fear of infertility: A qualitative study of young women's beliefs about intrauterine devices (IUDs). Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health.

Sundstrom, B., Billings, D., & Zenger, K.E. (Published online 2016). Keep Calm and LARC On: A theory-based long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) access campaign. Journal of Communication in Healthcare.

DeMaria, A.L., Sundstrom, B., *McInnis, S.M., & *Rogers, E.A. (Published online 2016). Perceptions and correlates of pubic hair removal and grooming among college-aged women: A mixed methods approach. Sexual Health.

Sundstrom, B. (2016). Mothers “Google it up:” Extending communication channel behavior in diffusion of innovations theory. Health Communication, 31 (1), 91-101.

DeMaria A.L., Sundstrom B., *Grzejdziak M., *Booth K., *Adams H., *Gabel C., & Cabot J. (Published online 2015). It’s not my place: Formative evaluation research to design a bystander intervention campaign. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Sundstrom, B., DeMaria, A.L., *Meier, S., *Jones, A., & *Moxley, G.E. (2015). “It makes you rethink your choice of the Pill:” Theory-based formative research to design a contraceptive access campaign. Journal of Health Communication, 20 (11) 1346-1354.

Sundstrom, B., Carr, L., DeMaria, A.L., Korte, J. Modesitt, S.C., & Young Pierce, J. (2015). Protecting the next generation: Elaborating the health belief model to increase HPV vaccination among college-age women. Social Marketing Quarterly, 21 (3) 173-188.

Sundstrom, B., *Baker-Whitcomb, A., DeMaria, A.L. (2015). A qualitative analysis of long-acting reversible contraception. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 19 (7), 1507-1514.

Sundstrom, B. (2014). Breaking women’s health taboos: Integrating diffusion of innovations theory with social marketing. Social Marketing Quarterly, 20 (2), 87-102.

Sundstrom, B., Briones, R., & Janoske, M. (2013). Expecting the unexpected: Nonprofit media responses to anti-abortion terrorism. Journal of Communication Management, 17 (4), 341-363.

Sundstrom, B. (2013). (Re)Writing the body: A prosumption analysis of pregnancy. Journal of Social Marketing, 3 (2), 127-143.

Sundstrom, B. (2012). Fifty years on “the pill”: A qualitative analysis of nondaily contraceptive options. Contraception, 86 (1), 4-11.

Sundstrom, B. (2012). Integrating public relations and social marketing: A case study of Planned Parenthood. Social Marketing Quarterly, 18 (2), 135-151.

Marshall, R. J., & Sundstrom, B. (2010). Determining the level of interest in a professional association for social marketing in the United States: results of a national survey. Social Marketing Quarterly, 16 (1), 21-30.