JUS Media? Programme

JUS Media? Programme Study Team Meeting, 2017
Family Resiliency Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Co-Investigators, Consultants, and PhD Students pictured: Top: Dr. Regina Ahn, Dr. Rachel Powell, Dr. Steve Tran, Dr. Michelle Nelson, Brenda Koester, M.S. Bottom: Prof. Meeks (Co-PI), Dr. Gail Ferguson (PI), Dr. Barbara Fiese

The J(amaican and) U(nited) S(tates) Media? Programme — JUS Media? Programme for short — is a new transdisciplinary global health intervention designed to combat the impact of US cable/media on eating habits in Jamaica by teaching youth and parents to question the health messages embedded in food advertising. Listen to this 2017 podcast interview with Dr. Ferguson for the story behind the birth of the JUS Media? Programme, and view and download educational infographics and videos here.

The JUS Media? Programme is a research-based food-focused media literacy intervention and was developed in response to the findings of Dr. Ferguson’s Culture, Health, and Family Life Study (CHFLS) with adolescents and parents in Kingston, Jamaica. That study indicated that adopting a part-American identity in Jamaica through a process called remote acculturation is linked to watching more US cable TV daily, which is then linked to eating more unhealthy foods (Ferguson et al., 2018, Child Development).

Funded by the Food and Family Program of the Christopher Family Foundation, Family Resiliency Center, University of Illinois, Dr. Ferguson convened a team of experts in media and nutrition from the U.S. (Dr. Nelson, University of Illinois) and Jamaica (Prof. Meeks Gardner, University of the West Indies), who together did preliminary research to canvas the food and media landscapes in Kingston (See this 2-min video of ubiquitous food advertising in Jamaica)The team then adapted an empirically validated U.S. food-focused media literacy intervention of Dr. Nelson to create the JUS Media? Programme for families in Jamaica. The development of the JUS Media? Programme is described in this article in the American Psychologist (click here for FREE download/open access).

Empirical findings

Funded by the NIH, Fogarty International Center, we piloted the JUS Media? Programme in Jamaica in a randomized controlled study involving students and mothers in Kingston. In this intervention, families:

  • received a presentation on national nutrition guidelines
  • learned that Americanization puts them at higher risk of unhealthy eating
  • deconstructed food ads based on media literacy principles and created counter-ads to expose their pernicious messages (a skill called subvertising)

See this 2-min video compilation of the subvertising contest winners — they gave written permission for their winning advertisements to be posted publicly.

Our efficacy study found that families who received the JUS Media? Programme reported better nutrition knowledge, higher vegetable consumption, and more critical thinking about food advertising than those who did not receive our Programme! Results were presented at multiple professional conferences (e.g., SRA, IACCP, 2018) and 3 journal articles have been published on baseline and overtime data including:

  • Ferguson, G. M., Meeks Gardner, J. M., Nelson, M. R., Giray, C., Sundaram, H., Fiese, B. H., Davis, B. K., Tran, S. P., Powell, R., & JUS Media? Programme Study Team (2021). Food-focused media literacy for remotely acculturating adolescents and mothers: A randomized controlled trial of the ‘JUS Media? Programme’. Journal of Adolescent Health, advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.06.006. Click here for [PDF]


Families in Jamaica who participated in the JUS Media? Programme had a lot to say about their experience. Listen to this family’s story.

Transdisciplinary global team

The JUS Media? Programme is headed by a transdisciplinary and global team of investigators having expertise in remote acculturation (Dr. Gail M. Ferguson, Principal Investigator, University of Minnesota, formerly University of Illinois, USA), Caribbean nutrition (Prof. Julie Meeks, University of the West Indies, Jamaica), media/advertising literacy (Dr. Michelle Nelson, University of Illinois, USA), childhood obesity and family mealtimes (Dr. Barbara Fiese, U of I, USA), and in stakeholder partnerships for healthy families (Brenda Koester, University of Illinois, USA).

Consultants on the team included Dr. Rachel Powell from the CDC Foundation, and Dr. Hari Sundaram from the U of I, and the Project Manager (Tashaine Morrison, UWI) and Data Manager (Dr. Steve Tran, U of I) also played key roles. Graduate student research assistants included Cagla Giray, Esra Sahin, and Ananya Shrestha (Human Development and Family Studies, USA); Regina Ahn, Kat Tian, and Mia Wang (Advertising, USA), and Candice Wray (Psychology, Jamaica). Several undergraduate students also served as research assistants on this project and one student completed an undergraduate honors research project mentored by a Ph.D. student researcher under the supervision of Dr. Ferguson.

Healthy families partnership

The JUS Media? Programme Team facilitated a series of three meetings to convene key stakeholders in the Kingston area of Jamaica to explore the possibility of partnership(s) to coordinate actions towards healthier families.

Each local stakeholder brought a unique lens and expertise. JUS Media? brought a food-focused media literacy lens. The first Healthy Families partnership meeting occurred on November 30, 2017 — click here to see the Executive Summary.  The second Partnership meeting occurred on March 1, 2018, and the third (and final) on June 26, 2018.

Digitization of the JUS Media? Programme

JUS Media? Programme Team Meeting, 2021
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
L-R Top: Hopewell Hodges (PhD Student & Grad RA), Tori Simenec (Lead PhD Student), Sarah Eckerstorfer (Undergrad RA); L-R Middle: Nita Senesathith (former Undergrad RA), Dr. Gail Ferguson (PI), Salma Ibrahim (Undergrad RA); L-R Bottom: Sarah Gillespie (PhD Student & Research Fellow); Not pictured: Saari Lane (Undergrad RA)

The original JUS Media? Programme was designed as a face:face family workshop format. The original JUS Media? Programme was designed as a face:face family workshop format. To expand its reach, a condensed digital/online school-based version of the JUS Media? Programme, called the “JUS Media? Global Classroom”, was created for use in physical and virtual classrooms in Jamaica. This digitization is being led by PhD student, Tori Simenec, and PhD Research Fellow, Sarah Gillespie, along with a team including Nita Senesathith (volunteer post-bac), Sarah Eckerstorfer (undergrad RA), Salma Ibrahim (undergrad RA), Saari Lane (undergrad RA), Dr. Ferguson (PI), and a Consultant in Jamaica, Arianne Anderson. 

Learn more about the digital program by watching this video presented at the World’s Challenge Challenge competition this year:

Cultural Adaptations of the JUS Media? Programme

Work is underway to culturally adapt the JUS Media? Programme to new cultural groups. Work is underway to culturally adapt the JUS Media? Global Classroom to new cultural groups! First, we created an intervention blueprint of the intervention content marking the culture-specific elements needing cultural tailoring versus the universal elements of the intervention that require no cultural adaptation. Next, we used this template to carry out adaptations to two different cultural groups: Somali American and Jamaican American adolescents. We sought community feedback for refinement of each cultural adaptation and are working to digitize each culturally tailored version of the program. This cultural adaptation is being led by PhD student Tori Simenec with input from PhD Research Fellow, Sarah Gillespie, Hopewell Hodges (PhD student & Graduate RA), and Salma Ibrahim (undergrad RA), and Dr. Ferguson (PI). Salma Ibrahim and Sarah Eckerstorfer (undergrad RAs) will soon be piloting the “JUS Media? Global Classroom” funded by University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) fellowships.

Update as of January 2022. The JUS Media? Global Classroom launched a pilot study in Jamaica and is preparing to begin a pilot in the US. These pilot studies include digital, culturally adapted versions of the program for both Jamaican Islanders and Somali American students. The program teaches media literacy skills and local nutritional guidelines to empower students to foster healthy eating habits.


The preliminary research for the development of JUS Media? was funded by the Christopher Family Foundation, Family Resiliency Center, University of Illinois. The randomized controlled feasibility study in Jamaica to evaluate the effectiveness of the JUS Media? was funded by the NIH, Fogarty International Center. The digitization of JUS Media? is funded by a faculty seed grant from the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, and its cultural adaptation to new cultural groups is being funded by a Research Acceleration Developmental Project seed grant through the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. The feasibility and acceptability pilot of the JUS Media? Global Classroom is funded by University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) fellowships awarded to Sarah Eckerstorfer and Salma Ibrahim (undergrad researchers).


Undergraduate researcher Saari Lane presented work from the JUS Media? Programme at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in December 2021. You can view her presentation here: https://ugresearch.umn.edu/symposium/fall2021presenters/Lane

Simenec, T. S., Gillespie, S., Hodges, H. R., Ibrahim, S., Eckerstorfer, S., JUS Media? Adaptation Team, & Ferguson, G. M. (2022). A novel blueprint storyboarding method using digitization for efficient cultural adaptation of prevention programs to serve diverse youth and communities. Prevention Science, advance online publication.