Maria Elena Figueroa

Research and Professional Interests

Maria Elena Figueroa, PhD, is currently an assistant scientist in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), where she lectures on Health Communication and Behavior Change. She is the director of the Research and Evaluation Division of the Center for Communication Programs (CCP) at the JHSPH. She also serves as director of the CCP Global Program on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

Dr. Figueroa’s research has focused on the understanding of health behavior in developing country settings. She is interested in the use of interdisciplinary research and the use of different theoretical approaches and methodologies for a more comprehensive study of cultural, household and individual factors that account for health behavior differentials. Dr. Figueroa’s current research interests include: developing a better understanding of the social and cultural factors that explain safe water, sanitation and hygiene behaviors, including the role of the household and community traits in such practices. In addition, Dr. Figueroa is testing and using innovative methodologies to better understand gender and sexual norms underlying HIV prevalence in Mozambique and participatory visual approaches for research on water, sanitation and hygiene practices. She recently coauthored the book chapter Communication for Participatory Development that provides technical guidance for the design and evaluation of community level program interventions and a comprehensive review of behavioral issues related to water treatment in the developing world.  With CCP research colleagues she is adapting WASH communication frameworks to the study of behavioral and cultural factors related to face washing and environmental hygiene for trachoma prevention programs.

Selected Publications:

  • Figueroa, M. E., Kincaid, D. L., & Hurley, E. A. (2014). The effect of a joint communication campaign on multiple sex partners in Mozambique: the role of psychosocial/ideational factors. AIDS Care. 2014;26 Suppl 1:S50-5. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2014.907386. Epub 2014 Apr 22.
  • Do, M., Kincaid, D. L., & Figueroa, M. E. (2014). Impacts of four communication programs on HIV testing behavior in South Africa. AIDS Care. 2014;26(9):1109-17. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2014.901487. Epub 2014 Apr 7.
  • Kincaid, D.L., Babalola, S., Figueroa M.E. (2014). HIV communication programs, condom use at sexual debut and infections averted in South Africa, 2005. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (Special Supplement). J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 Aug 15;66 Suppl 3:S278-84. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000242.
  • Rimal, R. N., Figueroa, M. E., & Storey, J. D. (2013). Character recognition as an alternate measure of television exposure among children: Findings from the Alam Simsim program in Egypt. Journal of health communication, 18(5), 594-609. 
  • Sodha, S.V., Menon, M., Trivedi, K., Ati, A., Figueroa, M.E., Ainslie, R., Wannemuehler, K., Quick, R. (2011). Microbiologic effectiveness of boiling and safe water storage in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.  Journal of Water and Health, 9(3), 577–585.
  • Rimal, R., Figueroa, M.E., Storey, J.D (2011). Character Recognition as an Alternate Measure of Television Exposure among Children: Findings from the Alam Simsim Program in Egypt. Journal of Health Communication. 
  • Kincaid, D. L., & Figueroa, M.E. (2009). Communication for participatory development: Dialogue, collective action, and change. In L. Frey and K. Cissna (Eds.)Handbook of Applied Communication Research. Routledge
  • Figueroa, M.E. & Kincaid, D.L. (2010). Social, Cultural and Behavioral Correlates of Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage. Center Publication No. (1). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communication Programs.

Regional Experience:

Latin America, Africa, Asia

Themes Categories:

Water and Health
Water and Agriculture

People Categories:

Leadership Committee


Maria Figueroa, health behavior, Center for Communications Programs, health communication