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Thomas Gordon

Thomas Gordon
Dr. Thomas Frank GordonProfessor
  • College
    College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Department
  • Phone
    (978) 934-1839
  • Fax
    (978) 934-1854
  • Office
    Health and Social Sciences Building - 467
  • Email

Research Interests

Health Communication; Research Methods; Statistical Modeling.

Development of effective health campaign message strategies; Development of perceptual mapping and cognitive modeling and simulation tools.


  • Ph D: Communication Research, (1973), Montana State University - Bozeman, MT
    Supporting Area: Psychology
  • MA: Communication, (1969), Montana State University - Bozeman, MT
    Supporting Area: Psychology
  • BA: Communication, (1967), Montana State University - Bozeman, MT
    Supporting Area: Liberal Arts


Dr. Gordon has had extensive experience conducting research studies involving a variety of research approaches, with particular emphasis on perceptual mapping, for such clients as: ABC Television Network; World News Tonight program; ABC Spot Sales Division; and numerous national corporations. For the past decade he has concentrated on health research and the use of perceptual mapping and segmentation approaches to develop more effective health campaigns. Dr. Gordon has conducted NCI and NIBIB funded projects, and studies for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Much of this research has involved working with low-income, low-health-literacy minority communities and has successfully produced tutorials and message strategies that are culturally and developmentally appropriate for these target groups. These studies have covered diverse areas of application including colorectal cancer screening, radiological terror, smallpox vaccination, avian flu attitudes toward vaccination and quarantine, public perceptions of emergency preparedness, and perceptions of patients by HIV/AIDS caregivers. These projects involved cross-disciplinary collaboration, and produced several peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2015 Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence (2015), Teaching - University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Member, NIH-SBIR Study Section (2009) - Risk Prevention and Health Behavior
  • Member, NIH-NCI Study Section (2008) - Community Influences on Health Behavior
  • Member, Health Communication Working Group of the Healthy People 2010-2020 initiative (2007) - Nat'l Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion (Surgeon General's Office)
  • Member (2003) - APHA, Health Communication Steering Committee
  • Chair (2000) - 2010 Healthy People Committee, Am. Public Health Association, APHA
  • Member (2000) - APHA, Health Communication Strategic Planning Committee
  • Member (2000) - Health Communication Working Group in Am Public Health Assoc

Selected Publications

  • Gordon, T., Ruzek, S.B., Bass, S.B., Greener, J., Wolak, C. (2016) "Randomized Trial of a Computerized Touch Screen Decision Aid to Increase Acceptance of Colonoscopy Screening in an African American Population with Limited Literacy.", Health Communication 31:10 pp. 1291 - 1300
  • Gordon, T., Bass, S.B., Muñiz, J., Maurer, L., Patterson, F., Muñiz, J. (2016) "Understanding Help-seeking Intentions in Male Military Cadets: An Application of Perceptual Mapping.", BMC Public Health 16: pp. 1
  • Gordon, T., Bauerle Bass, S., Gordon, R., Parvanta, C., Bass, S.B. (2016) "Using Eye Tracking and Gaze Pattern Analysis to Test a "dirty bomb" Decision Aid in a Pilot RCT in Urban Adults with Limited Literacy.", BMC Medical Informatics & Decision Making!!! 16: pp. 1
  • Gordon, T., Bass, S.B., Wolak, C., Greener, J., Tedaldi, E., Nanavati, A., Ruppert, K. (2016) "Using Perceptual Mapping Methods to Understand Gender Differences in Perceived Barriers and Benefits of Clinical Research Participation in Urban Minority HIV+ Patients.", AIDS Care 28:4 pp. 528 - 536
  • Gordon, T., Rovito, C., Paranjape, A., Bass, T., Ruzek, S., Wolak, S., Ruggieri, M., Ward, D., Greener, J. (2014) "Developing a Typology of African Americans With Limited Literacy Based on Preventive Health Practice Orientation: Implications for Colorectal Cancer Screening Strategies", Journal of Health Communication
  • Gordon, T., Bass, S.B., Ruzek, S.B., Wolak, C., Ruggieri, D., Mora, G., Rovito, M.J., Britto, J., Parameswaran, L., Abedin, Z., others, . (2013) "Developing a Computer Touch-Screen Interactive Colorectal Screening Decision Aid for a Low-Literacy African American Population Lessons Learned", Health Promotion Practice 14:4 pp. 589–598
  • Gordon, T., Paranjape, A., Meyer, B., Ruzek, S., Ruggieri, S., Bass, S., Rovito, M., Ward, S., Lin, K., Parameswaran, L., Wolak, C., Britto, J. (2013) "Perceived Colonoscopy Barriers and Facilitators Among Urban African American Patients and Their Medical Residents", Journal of Health Communication 18:4 pp. 372-390
  • Gordon, T., Ducette, J., Miller, M., Ruzek , S., Bass, S. (2013) "Why Fathers are too Important to Ignore: Communication about Sexuality between Fathers and Daughters", Holistic Nursing Practice 27:2 pp. 89-97
  • Gordon, T., Bass, S.B., Ruzek, S.B., Wolak, C., Ward, S., Paranjape, A., Lin, K., Meyer, B., Ruggieri, D.G. (2011) "Perceptions of Colorectal Cancer Screening in Urban African American Clinic Patients: Differences by Gender and Screening Status", Journal of Cancer Education 26:1 pp. 121–128
  • Gordon , T., Rovito, M., Bass, S., DuCette, J. (2011) "Perceptions of Testicular Cancer and Testicular Self-examination among College Men: A Report on Intention, Vulnerability, and Promotional Material Preferences", American Journal of Men’s Health 5:6 pp. 500-507
  • Gordon, T., Bass, S., Ruzek , S., Ward, L., Hanlon, A., Hausman, A., Hagen, M. (2010) "If You Ask Them, Will They Come? Predictors of Quarantine Compliance during a Hypothetical Avian Influenza Pandemic: Results from a Statewide Survey", Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 4:2 pp. 135-144
  • Gordon, T., Ruzek, S., Paranjape, A., Ward, S., Parameswaran, L., Bass, S. (2010) "Resident Physicians’ Perceptions of Barriers and Facilitators to Colorectal Cancer Screening for African Americans", Journal of the National Medical Association 102:4 pp. 303-311
  • Gordon, T., Lin, S., Parameswaran, L., Ward, S., Bass,, B., Meyer, K. (2008) "Increasing Colorectal Cancer Screening among African Americans, Linking Risk Perception to Interventions Targeting Patients, Communities and Clinicians", Journal of the National Medical Association 100:6 pp. 748-758
  • Bass, S.B., Gordon, T.F., Ruzek, S.B., Hausman,, ., A.J., . (2008) "Mapping perceptions related to acceptance of smallpox vaccination by hospital emergency room personnel", Biosecurity and Bioterrorism 6:2 pp. 179-189
  • Bass, S.B., Ruzek, S.B., Gordon, T.F., Hanlon,, ., A.L., . (2007) "Preparedness for a smallpox outbreak: Comparing metrics for assessing levels of vaccination among health-care workers by state", Epidemiology and Infection 135:4 pp. 622-633
  • Gordon, T., McKeown-Conn, N., Bass, S., Ruzek, S., Fleisher, L., Moore, D. (2006) "Relationship of internet health information use with patient behavior and self-efficacy: Experiences of newly diagnosed cancer patients who contact the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service", Journal of Health Communication 11:2 pp. 219-236
  • Gordon, T., Garvin, J.H., Haignere, C., DuCette, J.P. (2005) "Development of a Public Health Assessment Tool to Prevent Lyme Disease: Tool Construction and Validation", Perspectives in health information management/AHIMA, American Health Information Management Association 2:
  • Gordon, T., Viser, V. (1996) "Mental Imagery and Emotional Responses to Opposing Types of Music", Journal of Mental Imagery 20: pp. 169–190
  • Gordon, T., Tsao, C., Maranto, C., Leran, C., Murasko, D. (1992) "The Effects of Music and Biological Imagery on Immune Response", Applications of Music in Medicine, National Association for Music Therapy, Washington, DC pp. 85–121
  • Gordon, T., Surlin, S.H. (1977) "How Values Affect Attitudes Toward Direct Reference Political Advertising", Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 54:1 pp. 89–98
  • Gordon, T., Head, S.W. (1976) "The Structure of World Broadcast Programming: Some Tentative Hypotheses", International Communication Gazette 22:2 pp. 106–114

Selected Presentations

  • Utilizing Marketing and Psychology Methods to Test Health Messages: A Case-Study of How Gaze Patterns and Psycho-Physiological Measures Can Be Used to Analyze Responses to a 'Dirty Bomb' Decision Aid in People with Limited Literacy. - National Health Literacy Research Conference, October 2012 - Bethesda, MD
  • Perceived colonoscopy barriers and facilitators among urban African American patients and their medical residents. - American Public Health Association Annual Conference, October 2011 - Washington, DC.
  • Understanding of and willingness to comply with recommendations in the event of a dirty bomb: Demographic differences in low-literacy urban residents. - American Public Health Association Annual Conference, October 2011 - Washington, DC.
  • Encouraging low-literacy African Americans to be screened for colorectal cancer: An experimental comparison of Ôusual careÕ materials with a customized touch-screen tutorial. - American Public Health Association Annual Conference, November 2010 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Use of REALM-R vs. S-TOFHLA in an urban African American clinic population to assess health literacy: Practical Implications. - American Public Health Association Annual Conference, November 2010 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Appealing to males at-risk for testicular cancer: Defining a control identity typology and modeling perceptions of testicular self-examination (TSE). - American Public Health Association, November 2009
  • Developing a computer touch screen interactive colorectal cancer screening decision aid for low-literacy populations: Lessons learned. - American Public Health Association Annual Conference, November 2009 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Improving colorectal cancer screening strategies for low-literacy African Americans: Using risk-benefit segmentation to define a typology of patients and mapping perceptions to design targeted decision aids. - American Public Health Association Annual Conference, November 2009 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Perceptions of colorectal cancer screening in African Americans: Differences by gender and screening status. - American Public Health Association Annual Conference, November 2009 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Developing a computer touch screen interactive colorectal cancer screening decision aid for low-literacy populations:Lessons learned. - National Health Literacy Conference, October 2009 - Washington, D.C.
  • Mapping Public Perceptions of Avian FluÑA Statewide Survey: Using Perceptual Mapping to Model Perceptions and Design Health Campaign Strategy. - American Public Health Association., November 2007 - Washington, DC
  • Using perceptual mapping, eye-tracking, and pupilometer technologies with functional-MRI to design more effective health marketing strategies. - National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media: Expanding Networks, Increasing Knowledge, Advancing Public Health, September 2007 - Atlanta, GA
  • Using the precaution adoption model to understand colorectal cancer screening among African Americans: Implications for media agenda setting to reduce health disparities. - National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media: Expanding Networks, Increasing Knowledge, Advancing Public Health., September 2007 - Atlanta, GA
  • Advances in health campaign design via perceptual mapping: Determining strategy, tracking effects. - Southern Center for Communication, Health, and Poverty, September 2007
  • Gender differences in use of Internet health information among newly diagnosed cancer patients. - Third Annual Women's Health Interdisciplinary Research Symposium, Women, Health and Education: Creating Linkages, Center for Women's Health Research, Leadership and Advocacy., March 2007
  • Smallpox preparedness: Using perceptual mapping to design tailored messages promoting smallpox vaccination among emergency room healthcare workers. - American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, November 2006 - Boston, MA.
  • Smallpox Preparedness: Using perceptual mapping to design tailored messages promoting smallpox vaccination among emergency room healthcare workers. - Brown Bag Lunch Series, October 2006 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Using Perceptual Mapping to Model Perceptions of Disease & Disaster, Develop Message Strategies, Evaluate Message Impact, and Track Changes Over Time. - Center for Biosecurity, September 2006 - Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Strategies and methods for computer analysis of the Tobacco Settlement Documents on the American Legacy website. - American Public Health Association, 2005 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Perceptual mapping and risk communication. - Workshop, 2005 - Harrisburg, PA.
  • PREP: State of the art of mental health preparedness and response. - 2004 EPA Region III Emergency Preparedness and Prevention, December 2004 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • A comparison of statewide emergency mental health plans for 'high impact' 9/11 states: New York, New Jersey, & Virginia. - American Public Health Association, November 2004 - Washington, D.C.
  • Implementing the new Action Plans for the health communication objectives in Healthy People 2010: Strategies fostering collaborative partnerships. - Pennsylvania Public Health Association, October 2003 - Harrisburg, PA.
  • Health communication professionals, scholars, and practitioners collaborating for the future. - Kentucky Conference on Health Communication, April 2002 - Lexington, KY.
  • The Healthy People 2010 Health Communication Objectives: Implications, opportunities, and challenges for the field: Overview of the role of the Health Communication Working Group of APHA in advancing the 2010 Health Communication Objectives. - Health Communication Division of the National Communication Association., November 2001 - Chicago, IL.
  • The Health Communication chapter of Healthy People 2010: A progress report and discussion of the 2010 Health Communication Objectives. - Special conference session: American Public Health Association., October 2001 - Boston, MA
  • Health information on the Internet: How to find it, use it, and evaluate it. - Pennsylvania Society for Health Education, March 2000 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Psychoneuroimmunology and psychoneuroendocrinology: State of the sciences and prospects for the future. - Center for Frontier Sciences, February 1998 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Conceptualizing familiarity in music listening: implications for health research. - Society for Music Perception and Cognition, June 1993 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Music preferences and the use of music to manage emotional states: Correlates with self-concept among adolescents. - International Communication Association, May 1992 - Orleans, LA.
  • Directed biological imagery and progressive muscle relaxation as intrapersonal communication strategies for behavioral immunology. - Top Paper Award conference presentation: Health Communication Division of the International Communication Association, May 1991 - Chicago, IL.
  • Imagery and progressive relaxation as intrapersonal communication strategies to influence immune response (S-IgA). - Speech Communication Association Convention, November 1990 - New York, NY.
  • The effects of progressive muscle relaxation and directed biological imagery on immune response (S-IgA). - The Society of Behavioral Medicine, April 1990 - Chicago, IL.
  • Moment-by-moment electronic analysis of audience reactions to public policy arguments. - Discussant: 3rd Annual Mini-conference on Educating The Electorate: Advances in Political Discourse Analysis, December 1989 - Philadelphia, PA.
  • Music and imagery in the treatment of disease. - Special research session: Music Therapy Conference., April 1989 - Cherry Hill, NJ
  • Communicating scientific information within the cancer research community: Use of and satisfaction with formal and informal channels of scientific information exchange. - 1988 Symposium on Science Communication, December 1988 - Los Angeles, CA
  • The relationship of the immune system to imagery, relaxation, and music affect. - National Music Therapy Conference, November 1988 - Atlanta, GA.
  • Media and imagination: effects, processes, and potentials. - International Association for Mass Communication Research, Session Title: The Media Construction of Public Intelligence, August 1988 - Barcelona, Spain.
  • Current perspectives on popular music and dance. - International Communication Association, May 1988 - New Orleans, LA.
  • - Adolescent health promotion audience segmentation: Source influence, preference, and information acquisition., May 1986 - Chicago, IL.
  • - Representation and manipulation of attribute dimensions in multidimensional scaling., August 1978 - Seattle, WA.
  • Mass media and minority socialization: conceptualizing the process. - Association for Education in Journalism, session title: Defining minority groups in our multi-_cultural society., August 1974 - Chicago, IL.
  • Mass media and socialization: Theoretic approaches. - International Communication Association, session title: Socialization and the media: Theory and methodology., April 1974 - New Orleans, LA.

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Patient Participation in Clinical Research: Motivations & Decision-Making (), Grant - National Institutes of Health
  • Mapping Perceptions of HIV-positive Clients and Their Caseworkers (2008), Grant - Philadelphia Dept. of Public Health: AIDS Activities Coordinating Office
  • Mapping Neuro-Immune Pathways (2005), Grant - The Richard J. Fox Foundation
  • The Risk Communication Laboratory (2004), Grant - Office of Research, Temple University
  • Developing Radiological Risk Communication Materials for Low-literacy Populations (2009), Grant - National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
  • Using Perceptual Mapping to Develop Low Literacy Colorectal Cancer Screening Decision Aids (2007), Grant - National Cancer Institute
  • Testing the Effectiveness of the Pennsylvania Disaster Preparedness Guide Using Perceptual Mapping and Psycho-Physiological Measures (2005), Grant - Pennsylvania Department of Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness
  • Network Analysis of Tobacco Issues Management Strategies Before and After the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement: Computer Assisted Content Analysis of the Tobacco Settlement Documents (2003), Grant - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Mental Health Risk Communication for Emergency Preparedness- Phase I: Investigation of Smallpox Vaccination Attitudes Among Health Care Workers Using Perceptual Mapping Technology (2004), Grant - Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare: Office of Public Health Preparedness
  • Mammography Intervention for Low-Income African Americans (2003), Grant - National Cancer Institute
  • Mental Health Risk Communication for Emergency Preparedness (2004), Grant - Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare