Lillie Williamson

Communication Science

Assistant Professor



6050 Vilas Hall

Current and Future Projects

  • A project focused on understanding and modeling communication-related antecedents of medical mistrust.
  • A set of projects testing the effects of news stories about racial discrimination and medical racism on medical mistrust and health policy outcomes.
  • A project focused on understanding the relationships between medical mistrust and health/ scientific misinformation.

Expertise and Activities

My research examines the ways in which racial experiences and health communication interact to influence racial health inequalities. I have two primary lines of research a) the role of communication in medical mistrust and b) the impact of discrimination on health. Past projects have investigated the antecedents of medical mistrust; the effects of exposure to vicarious racial discrimination (e.g., news stories about racial discrimination) on medical mistrust, and social support as a buffer to the effects of stressors, such as racial discrimination. As I build on this work, some of my current projects explore a) communication about medical racism, b) the ways in which medical mistrust influences health information seeking, and c) the relationships between medical, and more broadly science, mistrust and health misinformation.

I am currently affiliate faculty in the Department of Psychology and the Center for Demography of Health and Aging.


Ph.D. Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2019

M.A. Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2016

B.S. Biology, Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011


Top Early Career Scholar Paper, Kentucky Conference on Health Communication, 2020


Williamson, L.D., Thompson, K.M., & Ledford, C.J.W. (2022). Trust takes two… Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2022.220126R1

Williamson, L.D., & Tarfa, A. (2022). Examining the relationships between trust in providers and information, mistrust, and COVID-19 vaccine concerns, necessity, and intentions. BMC Public Health. doi:10.1186/s12889-022-14399-9

Bigman, C.A., Planey, A.M., Williamson, L.D., Smith, M.A., & McNeil Smith, S. (2022). “There will be screen caps”: Exploring the role of first-and second-level digital documentation in the circulation of content about race and racial discrimination. Information, Communication, & Society. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2022.2041698

Williamson, L.D. (2021). Testing vicarious experiences as antecedents of medical mistrust: A survey of Black and White Americans. Behavioral Medicine. doi:10.1080/08964289.2021.1958740

Alang, S., Rogers, T., Williamson, L.D., Green, C., & Bell, A. (2021). Police brutality and unmet need for mental health care. Health Services Research. doi:10.1111/1475-6773.13736

Fox, J., Pearce, K.E., Massanari, A.L., Riles, J.M., Szulc, L., Ranjit, Y., Trevisan, F., Soriano, C.R.R., Vitak, J., Payal, A., Ahn, S.J., Alper, M., Gambino, A., Gonzalez, C., Lynch, T., Williamson, L.D., & Gonzales, A.L. (2021). Open science, closed doors? Countering marginalization through an agenda for ethical, inclusive research in communication. Journal of Communication. doi:10.1093/joc/jqab029

Reynolds-Tylus, T., Quick, B.L., Bigman, C.A., & Williamson, L.D. (2021). An Examination of Teenagers’ Beliefs Towards Organ Donor Registration. Clinical Transplantation. doi:10.1111/ctr.14237

Williamson, L.D. (2021). Beyond personal experiences: Examining mediated vicarious experiences as an antecedent to medical mistrust. Health Communication. doi:10.1080/10410236.2020.1868744

Smith, M.A., Williamson, L.D., & Bigman, C.A. (2020). Can social media news encourage activism? The impact of exposure to mediated discrimination on college students’ activism intention. Social Media + Society. doi:10.1177/2056305120921366

Guntzviller, L.M., Williamson, L.D., & Ratcliff, C.L. (2020). Stress, mental health, and social support among young adult Hispanics. Family & Community Health, 43, 82-91. doi:10.1097/FCH.0000000000000224

Williamson, L.D., Smith, M.A., & Bigman, C.A. (2019). Does discrimination breed mistrust? Examining the role of mediated and non-mediated discrimination experiences in medical mistrust. Journal of Health Communication, 24, 791-799. doi:10.1080/10810730.2019.1669742

McNeil Smith, S., Williamson, L.D., Branch, H., & Fincham, F.D. (2019). Racial discrimination, racism-specific support, and self-reported health among African American couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. (published online ahead of print). doi:10.1177/0265407519878519

Williamson, L.D., Bigman, C.A., & Quick, B.L (2019). A qualitative examination of African Americans’ organ donation-related medical mistrust beliefs. Howard Journal of Communications, 30, 430-445. doi:10.1080/10646175.2018.1512064

Bigman, C.A., Smith, M.A., Williamson, L.D., Planey, A.M., McNeil Smith, S. (2019). Selective sharing on social media: Examining the effects of disparate racial impact frames on intentions to retransmit news stories among U.S. college students. New Media & Society, 21, 2691-2709. doi:10.1177/1461444819856574

Williamson, L.D., & Bigman, C.A. (2018). A systematic review of medical mistrust measures. Patient Education & Counseling, 101, 1786-1794. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2018.05.007

Williamson, L.D., Reynolds-Tylus, T., Quick, B.L., & Shuck, M. (2017). African Americans’ perceptions of organ donation: “Simply boils down to mistrust!” Journal of Applied Communication Research, 45, 199-217. doi:10.1080/00909882.2017.1288293


  • CA 318 – Introduction to Health Communication
  • CA 518 – Communication and Health Inequalities
  • CA 612 – Race and Health Communication
  • CA 970 – (Mis)Trust in Health Communication