Erika A. Waters, PhD, MPH

Education

Graduate School

MS, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (Social Psychology), 2003

PhD, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (Social Psychology), 2006

MPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD (Epidemiology), 2007

Post Doctoral Education

Cancer Prevention Fellow: National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, 2006-2009

Research Interests

Dr. Waters seeks to understand how people think about health risks and how those thoughts influence their health-related decisions and behavior. To accomplish this, Dr. Waters explores the rich variety of cognitive, emotional, and social factors that make it difficult for people to use health risk information effectively. Understanding these inter-relationships will enable the development of health communication and behavior interventions that aim to reduce disparities in cancer morbidity and mortality. Most of Dr. Waters’ research focuses on cancer prevention, but the principles derived from her work have broader applicability to other health conditions.

Currently, Dr. Waters has four primary research projects:

  1. Explore how cigarette smokers’ responses to information about the presence of a genetic basis for nicotine addiction affect their thoughts, emotions, and behavior related to smoking. Understanding differences in beliefs between African-American and Caucasian smokers, and between smokers with more and less formal education is a priority.
  2. Examine how Internet-based health risk calculators such as Your Disease Risk can be used to affect people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, including their possible role in alleviating health disparities. This area of interest includes testing the efficacy of existing calculators and developing and testing novel risk communication strategies that aim to optimize communication efforts and thereby strengthen their effect on behavior. These novel strategies will be applicable to multiple communication modalities, channels, and platforms.
  3. Understand how, why, and under what circumstances people’s medical treatment decisions are influenced by the risk of experiencing medication side effects.
  4. Understand the causes and consequences of laypeople’s uncertainty about their risk of cancer and other diseases.

Dr. Waters also has a strong focus on community education and outreach. She has given several radio interviews, has spoken at cancer prevention and control fundraisers, and has assisted in disseminating the 8 Ways to Stay Healthy and Prevent Cancer via health fairs and employer-sponsored health events.

Contact Information

660 S. Euclid Avenue
Campus Box 8100
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 747-5705
waterse@wustl.edu

Waters Lab website

PubMed page for Dr. Waters