Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Steven S. Wilson

Committee Chair

Steven S. Wilson

Committee Member 1

Bart Collins

Committee Member 2

Stacey Connaughton


The common procedure in a health campaign is to use fear and guilt appeals to influence health behaviors among target populations (Mattson & Lam, 2016). The use of identity, identification, and reframing in a health campaign has been relatively under-explored. This study examines invitations to identification and reframing in a specific health campaign, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) “Make the Connection” campaign. With the issues of mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reaching high levels of attention in media and society, the VA’s Make the Connection campaign encourages military veterans and their families to seek help for mental health illness. The campaign features videos from over 400 military veterans and their families depicting personal testimonials of their health illness and recovery process.

This study examines the strategies of inviting identification and reframing evident in Make the Connection campaign through a qualitative content analysis of 60 campaign videos. Findings show that efforts to invite identification and to reframe mental health illness and the VA were ample. Specifically, Burke’s (1972) concepts of association and dissociation were evident throughout videos. Furthermore, video content seemed to reframe help-seeking so as to make it consistent with military values (e.g., help-seeking as a sign of strength rather than of weakness). Videos also reframed the VA as a caring institution.

Findings from this study suggest the need to consider identification and reframing as central concepts in health campaigns, which has previously received only limited attention in the literature. This thesis also applies these findings to public relations and communication management. Though this study did not examine campaign effectiveness, the campaign’s use of these strategies suggests that invitations for identification with an organization, and recognition of association between organizational members and the organization, may be an effective persuasive strategy. This thesis concludes with suggestions for future research, which include evaluating campaign effectiveness.