Susan Koch-Weser

Susan Koch-Weser

(617) 636-4033
136 Harrison Avenue
Research/Areas of Interest:

My areas of research include health communication, health literacy, and community health and has been closely tied to public health and health communication practice. The overarching theme has been to develop methods and processes to improve the accessibility and transparency of health information. This is important because it contributes to individual and community empowerment, especially for proactively addressing health issues. My work in health literacy has included contributions to conceptualization and measurement. I have approached health literacy from a multidisciplinary perspective, drawing on pragmatics and sociolinguistics to develop a quantitative methodology for measuring the literacy level of spoken language in clinical settings. More recently I have collaborated with educators to develop strategies to assess the effects of an innovative science curriculum on health literacy. This work involved identifying fundamental health literacy skills that function independently of content knowledge. In the past two years my health literacy work has taken a new direction and even more applied direction. I have been funded to develop consumer guidance labels for the AB InBev Foundation which will be placed on AB InBev beer products globally. The labels are intended to advance "alcohol health literacy" by providing clear, actionable alcohol information to consumers. I convened a consensus conference of outside experts in alcohol and consumer labeling to develop an evidence-based labeling strategy. I am now leading a team of Tufts researchers to operationalize the strategy.

In the area of community health, I have been an active member of Tufts CTSI's Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations Through Translational Research (ADAPT) project, a community-campus research partnership now in its eight year. In 2013 I secured internal funding to collect community health data for Chinatown. While the results of the survey have been widely shared in the community, I am currently collaborating with Boston Public Health Commission to weight the data making it comparable to city-wide data. More recently I have taken the lead on the development of a collective impact project to assess social determinants of health in Chinatown. The focus of my work in Chinatown with ADAPT has revolved around the community need for data to develop evidence-based approaches to health issues and to support advocacy.

I am frequently a co-investigator lending expertise in health literacy, health communication, and behavioral science. Projects I have contributed to include patient navigation for Chinese speaking patients at Tufts Cancer Center, a nutrition intervention for elementary school children, testing a patient-center decision-making tool for dialysis patients, and community-based approaches to communicating environmental risks in the Chinatown community.


  • Doctor of Science, Harvard School of Public Health, USA, 2005
  • Master of Science, Harvard School of Public Health, USA, 1997
  • Bachelor of Arts, Wellesley College, USA, 1988


Dr. Koch-Weser's research interests are in health communication, health literacy, and Asian health. Her research addresses how people find, understand, and apply information when making health decisions. She has worked on a range of projects, including research into patient decision-making and consumer choice of health care services, programs to increase health literacy among high school students, product labeling to promote healthy behaviors, and developing a communication campaign to improve the quality of foods children bring from home to school. Dr. Koch-Weser has also been an active member of Tufts CTSI's Stakeholder & Community Engagement Program, Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations through Translational Research (ADAPT), which is a community-academic partnership based in Boston's Chinatown. As a member of this group she contributes methodological expertise to projects, including having led a community health survey of Chinatown residents. Currently project ADAPT is working to secure funding to advance collective impact projects designed to promote health by coordinating interventions and data collection across multiple agencies serving the Chinese community.