Health Communication

The symbolic processes of communication relate to how people experience health and wellness, physical and mental illnesses, and the human body. Communication among family members, friends, co-workers, physicians, nurses, and others influences well-being at individual and group levels; in turn, health conditions have implications for communicative practices.

Research questions regarding health communication include how and why people talk about health and illness, how organizations structure and deliver care, how health information is conveyed via new technologies, and how societies construct policies and discourses about illness, health, and healing.

Courses | Publications by faculty members | Dissertations | Faculty and courses in other departments


CMS 330: Interpersonal Health Communication

CMS 386P: Managing Health Information

CMS 386H: Stress and Coping

Publications by faculty members

Donovan-Kicken, E., Mackert, M., Guinn, T. D., Tollison, A. C., & Breckinridge, B. (2013). Sources of patient uncertainty when reviewing medical disclosure and consent documentation. Patient Education and Counseling, 90, 254-260. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2012.10.007

Donovan-Kicken, E., Tollison, A. C., & Goins, E. S. (2012). The nature of communication work during cancer: Advancing the theory of illness trajectories. Health Communication, 27, 641-652. doi:10.1080/10410236.2011.629405

Donovan-Kicken, E., Mackert, M., Guinn, T. D., Tollison, A. C., Breckinridge, B., & Pont, S. J. (2012). Health literacy, self-efficacy, and patients’ assessment of medical disclosure and consent documentation. Health Communication, 27, 581-590. doi:10.1080/10410236.2011.618434

Donovan-Kicken, E., Tollison, A. C., & Goins, E. S. (2011). A grounded theory of control over communication among individuals with cancer. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 39, 310-330. doi:10.1080/00909882.2011.585398

Donovan-Kicken, E., & Caughlin, J. P. (2011). Breast cancer patients’ topic avoidance and psychological distress: The mediating role of coping. Journal of Health Psychology, 16, 596-606. doi:10.1177/1359105310383605

Donovan-Kicken, E., & Caughlin, J. P. (2010). A multiple goals perspective on topic avoidance and relationship satisfaction in the context of breast cancer. Communication Monographs, 77, 231-256. doi:10.1080/03637751003758219

Dailey, R. M., Richards, A. A., & Kluever Romo, L. (May, 2009). Messages from significant others about weight management: The role of confirmation in weight management attitudes and behaviors. Paper to be presented at the International Communication Association Conference. Chicago, IL.

Donovan-Kicken, E. (2008, November). Couples' talk about breast cancer: Links between social support and psychological adjustment. Paper presented at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, San Diego, CA.

Donovan-Kicken, E., & Bute, J. J. (2008). Uncertainty of social network members in the case of communication-debilitating illness or injury. Qualitative Health Research, 18, 5-18.

Caughlin, J. P., Brashers, D. E., Ramey, M. E., Kosenko, K. A., Donovan-Kicken, E., & Bute, J. J. (2008). The message design logics of responses to HIV disclosures. Human Communication Research, 34, 655-684.

Stephens, K. K., Rimal, R. N., & Flora, J. (2004) Expanding the reach of health campaigns:  Community organizations as metachannels for the dissemination of health information. Journal of Health Communication, 9, 97-111.  

Stephens, K. K., D'Urso, S. C., & Holmes, P. (2006).  The Sulzer hip replacement recall crisis:  A patient's perspective. In S. May (Ed.). Case studies in organizational communication: Ethical perspectives and practices (pp. 125-138). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dailey, R. M., Romo, L. K., & Thompson, C. M. (2011). Confirmation in couples’ communication about weight management: An analysis of how both partners contribute to individuals’ health behaviors and conversational outcomes. Human Communication Research, 37, 553-582.
Dailey, R. M., McCracken, A. A., & Romo, L. K. (2011). Confirmation and weight management: Predicting effective levels of acceptance and challenge. Communication Monographs, 78, 185-211.

Ph.D. Dissertations and M.A. Theses

Mary Smith (2006) - Fostering psychological safety through facework: The importance of the effective delivery of performance feedback [in a hospital setting]

Melody Chatelle (2004) - From the mouths of babes: Narratives of children and young people with advanced or terminal illnesses (nominated for Dissertation of the Year Award at The University of Texas at Austin; adapted into a book from LangMarc Publishing, July 2008: Journeys of Heartache and Grace: Conversations and Life Lessons from Young People with Serious Illnesses)

Richards, Andrea. (2009). Romantic Partner Communication about Weight Management: Impact of Personal and Relational Characteristics on Message Interpretation and Health Attitude Outcomes

Faculty and courses in other departments

In designing their programs of study, graduate students also have opportunities to include coursework from highly regarded campus units such as the School of Nursing, School of Social Work, College of Pharmacy, Department of Psychology, Department of Advertising, and the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education.

PUSH -Public Understanding of Science and Health

Center for Health Communication