Beth Sundstrom

Associate Professor | Director of the Women’s Health Research Team

Address: 5 College Way, Room 103

Beth L. Sundstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H. is an associate professor specializing in strategic health communication. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on such topics as strategic communication, social marketing, health communication, and public health. She teaches health communication in the Barcelona, Spain Summer Study Abroad Program.

Dr. Sundstrom is a Fulbright Scholar, receiving a grant to conduct research in Ireland at University College Cork in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science and the Institute for Social Sciences in the 21st Century (ISS21) in 2018. Dr. Sundstrom is the 2018 recipient of the William V. Moore Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award at the College of Charleston. She also received the 2016 ExCEL Award for Outstanding Faculty of the Year in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Sundstrom 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 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 an affiliate faculty member of the Cancer Control Program at Hollings Cancer Center (HCC). She is 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.

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, women’s health, and reproductive justice. 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 has also contributed to the Huffington Post and discussed her research on SCetv (South Carolina’s public broadcasting, storytelling, and education network), Science for the People (A syndicated radio show and podcast that broadcasts weekly across North America), Perceptions of Pregnancy, and other mainstream media outlets. 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. Dr. Sundstrom’s 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 the Women’s Health Research Team.

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
  • Reproductive justice

Honors and Awards

2018 - William V. Moore Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award (College of Charleston)


* = 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.

*Booth, K., Sundstrom, B., DeMaria, A.L., & Dempsey, A. (In Press). Communicating reproduction: A qualitative analysis of postpartum contraceptive choice. Journal of Communication in Healthcare. doi:10.1080/17538068.2018.1477445

*Meier, S., Sundstrom, B., DeMaria, A.L., & Delay, C. (In Press). Beyond a legacy of coercion: Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) and social justice. Women’s Reproductive Health.

Sundstrom, B., Brandt, H.M., Gray, L., & Young Pierce, J. (2018). It’s My Time: Applying the health belief model to prevent cervical cancer among college-age women. Journal of Communication Management, 22 (2): 161-178. doi:10.1108/JCOM-06-2016-0044

Sundstrom, B., *Szabo, C., & Dempsey, A. (2018). “My Body. My Choice:” A qualitative study of the influence of trust and locus of control on postpartum contraceptive choice. Journal of Health Communication, 23: 162-169. doi:10.1080/10810730.2017.1421728

DeMaria, A.L., Sundstrom, B., *Moxley, G., *Banks, K., *Bishop, A. & Rathbun, L. (2018). Castor oil as a natural alternative to labor induction: A retrospective descriptive study. Women and Birth, 31: e99-e104. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2017.08.001

Delay, C., Sundstrom, B., DeMaria, A., & *Brig, K. (2018) “‘Going Back’: Spirituality and Cultural Traditions in South Carolina Women’s Childbirth Experiences.” In Childbirth and Spirituality, edited by Marianne Delaporte and Morag Martin, Lexington Books.

Sundstrom, B., Ferrara, M., DeMaria, A.L., *Payne, J. B., & *Baker-Whitcomb, A. (2017). Integrating pregnancy ambivalence and effectiveness in contraceptive choice. Health Communication, 32 (7): 820-827.

DeMaria, A.L., Sundstrom, B., *Moxley, G.E., and *Meier, S. (2017). Predicting women’s responses to contraceptive campaign messages. Health Behavior and Policy Review, 4 (1): 87-96.

Sundstrom, B., Ferrara, M., DeMaria, A.L., *Gabel, C., *Booth, K., & Cabot, J. (2017). It’s Your Place: Development and evaluation of an evidence-based bystander intervention campaign. Health Communication. doi:10.1080/10410236.2017.1333561

Kollath-Cattano, C., DeMaria, A.L., Sundstrom, B., *Kooper, A., *Manzi, H., *McInnis, S.M., Cabot, J.O. (2017). “Everyone wants a community”: A qualitative investigation of the challenges and service needs among college students in recovery. Addiction Research & Theory. doi:10.1080/16066359.2017.1414199

Sundstrom, B., & Levenshus, A.B. (2017). The art of engagement: Dialogic strategies on Twitter. Journal of Communication Management, 21(1): 17-33.

Monroe, C.M., Turner-McGrievy, G., Larsen, C.A., Magradey, K., Brandt, H.M., Wilcox, S., Sundstrom, B., & West, D.S. (2017). College freshmen students’ perspectives on weight gain prevention in the digital age: Web-based survey. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, 3(4):e71. doi:10.2196/publichealth.7875

*Payne, J. B., Sundstrom, B., & DeMaria, A.L. (2016). Fear of infertility: A qualitative study of young women's beliefs about intrauterine devices (IUDs). Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 61(4): 482-488.

Sundstrom, B., Billings, D., & Zenger, K.E. (2016). Keep Calm and LARC On: A theory-based long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) access campaign. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 9 (1): 49-59.

DeMaria, A.L., Sundstrom, B., *McInnis, S.M., & *Rogers, E.A. (2016). Perceptions and correlates of pubic hair removal and grooming among college-aged women: A mixed methods approach. Sexual Health, 13(3): 248-256.

Sundstrom, B., *Meier, S., *Anderson, M., *Booth, K., *Cooper, L., *Flock, E., *Payne, J., & Hirway, P. (2016). Voices of the “99 Percent:” The role of online narrative to improve health care. The Permanente Journal, 20(4):15-224.

West, D.S., Monroe, C.M., Turner-McGrievy, G., Sundstrom, B., Larsen, C., Magradey, K., Wilcox, S., & Brandt, H.M. (2016). A technology-mediated behavioral weight gain prevention intervention for college students: Controlled, quasi-experimental study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18 (6): e133.

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

Sundstrom, B., & Levenshus, A.B. (2016). The art of tweeting: Integrating primary social media research into a public relations writing course. In H. S. Noor Al-Deen (Ed.), Social Media in the Classroom. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 111-130.

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.

Briones, R.L., & Sundstrom, B. (2013). Reaching the unreachable: How eHealth and mobile health technologies impact at-risk populations. In. R. Ahmed & B.R. Bates (Eds.), Health Communication and Mass Media: An Integrated Approach to Policy and Practice. Burlington, VT: Gower Publishing, 133-150.

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.