England, Kelli J.

  • Professor and Director of Community Health and Research, Pediatrics


  • I am a Professor and Director of the Pediatrics Division of Community Health and Research at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. I hold joint appointments in EVMS Pediatrics and EVMS Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and am a faculty member of the Virginia Consortium Ph.D. Program in Clinical Psychology.

    I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, and am involved in health promotion at the regional, state, and national levels. In 2019, I was recognized by the United Nations as a Global Leader in Road Safety, and was also named the Toy Savage Endowed Professor of Pediatrics at my institution. I conduct research involving the development of behavior-change programs that benefit the health and safety of children, teens, and families.

    My research is community-engaged and applied in large-scale settings, such as schools, organizations and mass/social media. My areas of interest are injury control, health behavior theory, substance abuse prevention, and risk communication. I have led teams awarded more than 30 grants and contracts from federal, state, and private agencies for this work. I received my B.S. and M.S. in Experimental/General Psychology from Old Dominion University and earned my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Tech.

selected publications

research overview

  • I conduct research involving design and evaluation of large-scale behavior-change programs that benefit the health and safety of children, teens, and young adults. My main areas of interest are risk communication, injury control, and substance abuse prevention. As a clinical health psychologist, I blend behavioral theory, psychological principals, and best practices in public health and risk communication to devise novel program approaches that motivate behavior change among hard-to-change populations. I am particularly interested in the role of risk perceptions, efficacy, and normative beliefs in the public's response to and acceptance or avoidance of risk. Often, messaging approaches are mismatched to the needs of the audience when one considers existing perceptions of risk, readiness to change, and efficacy regarding the recommended action. Through my research in this area, I examine these barriers, test various approaches to messaging, and provide recommendations to the field for stronger message design.

    My research is often community-engaged and applied on a large-scale, such as in schools, organizations, and mass/social media. I have led teams awarded more than 30 initial and competing continuation grants from federal, state, and private agencies for this applied research. Recently funded projects are focused on messaging and intervention approaches on the development of effective countermeasures to combat e-cigarette and tobacco use among teens and young adults (see for example www.rethinkvape.org), and in injury prevention (see for example www.carsafetynow.org). For example, I developed the empirically supported Boost 'em in the Back Seat video to convey the power of crash forces, raise perceived threat, dispel barriers and myths, bolster efficacy, and motivate booster seat use. Within a year of its release, the video garnered 23 million views in 154 countries, and has brought much needed awareness of the risks of early transition out of a booster seat. Similarly, my team developed the empirically supported Rethink Vape program to prevent teen e-cigarette use, and a 6-week teen-targeted local online ad campaign delivered 3,838,465 impressions and 770,443 completed video views. Both interventions were developed using a community-engaged research process, and shown to have empirical support in a randomized controlled experiment prior to their release.

preferred title

  • Professor and Director of Community Health and Research

full name

  • Kelli J. England, PhD


Recent publications and grants in Researchers@EVMS