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Health Communication

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Health Communication

Health Communication in the OU Department of Communication has three major areas of research as our strength: (a) health communication in interpersonal contexts, (b) health promotion and campaigns, and (c) organizational and health communication. Health communication in interpersonal contexts examines how individuals manage their illness events effectively and appropriately through social interactions. Faculty members in this area of research have examined how health literacy, communicative competence, and social support play a critical role in individuals’ illness management with their support network, including health care providers, family members, and supportive others. The area of health promotion and campaign adopts a perspective similar to that of public health researchers in exploring best practices in modifying individuals’ health behaviors (e.g., risk aversion/management and smoking cessation) through health education and implementation of different campaign strategies. Faculty members in this area of research have explored the effectiveness of campaign messages (e.g., message features), factors influencing individuals’ evaluation and interpretation of campaign messages (e.g., psychological and emotional factors), and different message outcomes (e.g., message effects and campaign evaluation). The area of organizational and health communication focuses on research such as community organizing and health, the emotion experiences of health professionals, healthcare ethics (e.g., informed consent, privacy), healthcare teams, managed care, physician assimilation, and health professionals’ coping with stress and burnout. Currently, faculty members’ research includes community organizing and health, healthcare ethics, and physician assimilation. Because the OU-Norman campus is 20 minutes away from the OU-Health Science Center campus at Oklahoma City and 2 hours away from the OU-Community Medicine campus at Tulsa, faculty members, physicians (including medical residents), and graduate students often collaborate on research projects across campuses. In addition, due to the strength in our intercultural communication program, many of our faculty members and students often conduct their studies in international settings, highlighting the culturally and socially constructed nature of health/illness management.

Typical Graduate Level Course Offerings

Comm 5263 Health Communication
Comm 5393: Risk and Crisis Communication
Comm 5453: Social influence
Comm 5553 Persuasive Communication Campaigns
Comm 6423 Communication in Health Organizations
Comm 6023 Communication Research Task Groups
Comm 6960 Directed Readings

Current Faculty with Research and/or Teaching Interests

Recent Dissertations in Health Communication

Liu, Shr-Jie (2017). Reactance theory and self-construal in the East and West.

Lookadoo, Kathryn L. (2017). The addition of valence and narrative endings’ influence on the risk convergence model.  

Terui, Sachiko (2016). Cross-cultural comparisons on pathways between language barriers and health disparities

Haiying Kong (2016). Finding peace in life’s unexpected journey: The processes of grieving and identity transformation for mothers of children with Down Syndrome.


Recent Representative Faculty and Graduate Student Publications in Health Communication

Bessarabova, E., & Massey, Z. B. (2019). Testing terror management health model and integrating its predictions with the theory of psychological reactance, Communication Monographs. doi:10.1080/03637751.2019.1626992

Hsieh, E. & Kramer, E. M. (in press) Work as Health: Tensions in imposing work requirements to Medicaid recipients in the U.S. In Arxer, S. and Murphy J. W. (Eds.), Community-based Health Interventions in an Institutional Context. Springer.

Hsieh, E. (2018). Reconceptualizing language discordance: Meanings and experiences of language barriers in the U.S. and Taiwan. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 20, 1-4.

Hu, J. &  & Hsieh, E. (2018). Supportive relationships: Caring for our loved ones in cultural contexts. In A. du Pré & E. B. Ray &  (Eds.), Real-life scenarios: A case study perspective on health communication (pp.79-84). Oxford University Press.

Hsieh, E. (2017). Surviving violence in everyday life: A communicative approach to the homelessness. Social Work in Public Health, 32, 110-121.

Hsieh, E. (2017). Conceptualizing Bilingual Health Communication: Theorizing interpreter-mediated medical encounters. In E. A. Jacobs & L. C. Diamond (Eds.), Providing health care in the context of language barriers: International perspectives (pp. 35-55). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Hsieh, E. (2017). Cross-cultural care: When providers and patients do not share the same language. In J. Yamasaki, P. Geist-Martin, & B. F. Sharf (Eds.), Storied health and illness: Communicating personal, cultural & political complexities (2nd ed.; pp. 69-71). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Kramer, E. M. & Hsieh, E. (2019). Gaze as embodied ethics: Homelessness, the Other, and humanity. In Dutta, M. and Zapata, D. (Eds.), Communicating for social change: Meaning, Power, and Resistance (pp. 33-62). Singapore: Palgrave-MacMillan.

Miller, C. H., & Cortes Quantip, R. J. (2017). Anger in health and risk messaging. In R. Perrott (Ed.) Encyclopedia of health and risk message design and processing, New York: Oxford University Press (pp. 117-128).

Olufowote, J. O. & Aranda, J. (2018). The PEN-3 cultural model: A critical review of health communication for Africans and African immigrants. In R. Ahmed & Y. Mao (Eds.), Culture, migration, and health communication in a global context (pp. 176-190). New York: Routledge  

Olufowote, J. O., Aranda, J., Wang, G. E., & Liao, D. (2017). Advancing the New Communications Framework for HIV/AIDS: The communicative constitution of HIV/AIDS networks in Tanzania’s HIV/AIDS NGO sector. Studies in Media and Communication5, 79-92.

Olufowote, J. O. (2017). An institutional field of people living with HIV/AIDS organizations in Tanzania: Agency, culture, dialogue, and structure. Frontiers in Communication [Health Communication section]2, doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2017.00001

Wong, N. C. H. (2019). Injunctive and descriptive norms and theory of planned behavior: Influencing intentions to use sunscreen. Women’s Health and Complications, 2(1), 1-7.

Wong, N. C. H., Lookadoo, K. L., & Nisbett, G. W. (2017). “I’m Demi and I have bipolar disorder”: Effect of parasocial contact on reducing stigma toward people with bipolar disorder. Communication Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/10510974.2017.1331928.



Recent Funding in Health Communication

Dr. Elaine Hsieh; Quality of Care for Interpreter-Mediated Medical Encounters in Taiwan. 2015-2016 Core Fulbright U. S. Scholar; Arts, Education, Humanities, Professional Fields and Social Sciences-- Research (Award #5130), Taiwan. Sponsored by the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


Faculty Achievements

Dr. Elaine Hsieh was competitively selected to be one of the three 2018 summer interns at the Health Law and Policy Clinic, Center of Health Law and Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School. During the 10-week program, she wrote numerous legal memos and issue briefs examining the intersections of health law, public health law, health policy, and health advocacy.

Dr. Hsieh’s book, Bilingual health communication: Working with interpreters in cross-cultural care, was listed as “Highly Recommended” and "Top 75 Highly Recommended Titles for Community Colleges” by American Library Association in Feb 2017; Choice Review 54(6).