This abstract is summarized by the IPR Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from the original journal article published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research. 

Jennifer Vardeman-Winter, Ph.D., and colleagues explored how women’s identities affect their reception of messages and decision-making behaviors. The report provides information for an intersectional approach to the segmentation of publics.

Interviews of 31 women of different racial, socioeconomic, age and relationship backgrounds were conducted to explore how they perceived their multiple, overlapping identities in terms of influence on their health decision making, specifically breast cancer screening.

Key Findings

    • Publics experience co-occurring oppression and privilege in varying contexts. These contexts could include: 
      • Representations of certain publics
      • Policies that affect certain groups
      • Structures that enable or hinder certain individuals’ ability to improve their health
    • Communicators can predict some actions by a seemingly homogenous group, but it cannot determine the nuances in information seeking based on multiple identities.
      • Thus, communicators should contextualize publics within their lived structural, political, and representational intersectional experiences.
    • It is the social responsibility of campaign designers to respond to all publics’ needs, particularly those experiencing disparities based on media and resource inaccessibility.

Implications for the Industry
Public relations practitioners should craft tailored messages for different audiences based on their intersectional identities. This requires practitioners to incorporate intersectionality into campaign planning so they may carefully understand their audiences’ overlapping identities. Practitioners should ask “what specific (cultural) factors about these peoples’ lives might make their communication about the issue different from other groups of people?” (Vardeman-Winter, Jiang, & Tindall, 2013). Digging deep and asking questions will allow communicators to build better messaging and improve relationships with a variety of publics.

Read more to learn the steps communicators can take to include publics with intersecting identities.


Vardeman-Winter, J., Jiang, H., & Tindall, N. T. (2013). Information-Seeking Outcomes of Representational, Structural, and Political Intersectionality Among Health Media Consumers. Journal of Applied Communication Research,41(4), 389-411. doi:10.1080/00909882.2013.828360

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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