Dr. Step’s academic interest is in understanding and improving health communication messaging associated with social and behavioral risks, such as tobacco use and HIV prevention. She holds a doctorate in Communication Studies from Kent State University (1998) and completed postdoctoral training in cancer prevention and control at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (2008). Dr. Step secured extramural funding from the American Cancer Society, HRSA and NCI to support her research focused on improving health communication messaging in clinical, social media, and mobile health contexts. This work includes observation and evaluation of health communication processes, communication skills training, and development of communication-based interventions to support health outcomes.
Dr. Step currently collaborates with Cuyahoga County’s MetroHealth Hospital in the development, implementation, and evaluation of a mobile health application, Positive Peers, a social media-based intervention for supporting young people diagnosed with HIV. Positive Peers has been ranked as one of the top 50 HIV blogs and websites on the World Wide Web.
Because tobacco use continues to be a leading cause of multiple preventable illnesses, Dr. Step is also focused on tobacco cessation. She is a primary member of a research team that developed and delivers evidence-based training for primary care clinicians in tobacco cessation counseling. This novel method, known as the Teachable Moment Communication Process is currently being evaluated in a series of randomized control trials.
Dr. Step is an enthusiastic instructor who has taught a broad array of coursework to undergraduates, graduate students, and clinicians. Courses include Communication Process, Nonverbal Communication, Public Health Communication and Persuasion. She is also a certified Executive Coach by the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and is a board member of the Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County. Dr. Step enjoys travel to historic locales, knitting, and with her husband, serves four cats.
PhD, Communication Studies, Kent State University, 1998, MACT, Communication Studies, Cleveland State University, 1992, BA, Communication Studies, Cleveland State University, 1990
Step, M.M., Bracken, C.C., Trapl, E., & Flocke, S.A. (in press). User and content characteristics of public tweets referencing little cigars. American Journal of Health Behavior.
Flocke, S.A., Step, M.M., Antognoli, E., Lawson, P.J., Smith, S., Parran, T., and Marsh, S. (2014). A randomized trial to evaluate primary care clinician training to use the Teachable Moment Communication Process for smoking cessation counseling. Prevent
Step, M.M., Kypriotakis, G., & Rose, J.H (2013). An exploration of the relative influence of patient’s age and cancer recurrence status on symptom distress, anxiety and depression over time. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. DOI:10.1080/07347332.2012.
Step, M.M. & Ray, E. B. (2011) Patient perceptions of oncologist-patient communication about prognosis: Changes from initial diagnosis to cancer recurrence. Health Communication, 26(1), 48-58.