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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


Hsieh, E., & Kramer, E. M. (2021). Rethinking culture in health communication: Social interactions as intercultural encounters. Wiley.

Hsieh, E. (2016). Bilingual health communication: Working with interpreters in cross-cultural care. Routledge.


Bessarabova, E., & Massey, Z. B. (2020)Testing terror management health model and integrating its predictions with the theory of psychological reactance, Communication Monographs87(1), 25-46, doi:10.1080/03637751.2019.1626992

Bessarabova, E., Banas, J. A., & Bernard, D. R. (2020). Emotional appeals in message design. In D. O’Hair & M. J. O’Hair (Eds.), Handbook of applied communication research. Sage.

Chang, D. F., Hsieh, E., Somerville, W. B., Diamond, J., Thomas, M., Nicasio, A., Boiler, M., & Lewis-Fernández, R. (2021). Rethinking interpreter functions in mental health services. Psychiatric Services, 72(3), 353-357

Hsieh, E. (2022). Intercultural health communication: Rethinking culture in health communication. In T. L. Thompson & N G. Harrington (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of health communication (3rd ed.; pp. 441-455). Routledge

Hsieh, E. (in press). Model of bilingual health communication. In M. Orbe, J. Sims, & J. Austin (Eds.), Communication theory: Racially diverse and inclusive perspectives. Cognella.

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). 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). Waveland Press.

Hsieh, E. (2017). Surviving violence in everyday life: A communicative approach to the homelessness. Social Work in Public Health, 32(2), 110-121.

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), 1-4.

Hsieh, E., & Kramer, E. M. (2019). Work as health: Tensions of imposing work requirements to Medicaid patients in the United States. In S. L. Arxer & J. W. Murphy (Eds.), Community-based health interventions in an institutional context (pp. 139-157). Springer.

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.

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). Palgrave-MacMillan.

Lookadoo, K. L., & Wong, N. C. H. (2020). Searching for a silver lining: Mediated intergroup contact and mental health perceptions. Studies in Media and Communication, 8(2), 1-13. doi:10.11114/smc.v8i2.xx.

Lookadoo, K., Hubbard, C., Nisbett, G., & Wong, N. (2021). We’re all in this together: Celebrity influencer disclosures about COVID-19. Atlantic Journal of Communication. Advance online publication.

Ma, H. & Miller, C. H. (2021). The effects of agency assignment and reference point on responses to COVID-19 messages, Health Communication, 36(1), 59-73,

Ma, H., & Miller, C. H. (2020). Trapped in a double bind: Chinese overseas student anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Communication. DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2020.1775439

Ma, H., Miller, C., & Wong, N. (2020). Don’t let the tornado get you!: The effects of agency assignment and self-construal on responses to tornado preparedness messages. Health Communication. Advance online publication.

Miller, C. H., & Cortes Quantip, R. J. (2017). Anger in health and risk messaging. In R. L. Parrott (Ed.) Encyclopedia of health and risk message design and processing (pp. 117-128). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.263

Miller, C. H., & Ma, H. (2021). How existential anxiety shapes communication in coping with the coronavirus pandemic: A terror management theory perspective. In H. D. O’Hair and M. J. O’Hair (Eds.), Communication Science in Times of Crisis (pp. 54-80). Wiley.

Miller, C. H., Massey, Z. B., & Ma, H. Psychological reactance and persuasive message design. (2020) In H. D. O’Hair & M. J. O’Hair (Eds.), Handbook of applied communication research. NY: Wiley. DOI: 10.1002/9781119399926.ch27

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

Olufowote, J. O. (2021). Taking culture and context seriously: Advancing health communication research on HIV/AIDS prevention in Tanzania with the PEN-3 cultural model. Howard Journal of Communications, 32(4), 394-412.

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). Routledge.

Olufowote, J. O., & Livingston, D. J. (2021). The excluded voices from Africa’s Sahel: Alternative meanings of health in narratives of resistance to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in northern Nigeria. Health Communication. Advance online publication.

Olufowote, J. O., Adebayo, C. T., Livingston, D. J., & Wilson, K. K. (in press). An alternative entry point into health communication research: Introspections on learning, applying, and future uses of PEN-3. In C. O. Airhihenbuwa & J. Iwelunmor (Eds.), Health, culture, and place: From the tree to the forest.

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(1), 79-92.

Richards, A. S., Bessarabova, E., Banas, J. A., & Bernard, D. R. (in press). Reducing psychological reactance to health promotion messages: Comparing preemptive and postscript mitigation strategies. Health Communication.   

Richards, A. S., Bessarabova, E., Banas, J. A., & Larsen, M. (2021). Freedom-prompting reactance mitigation strategies function differently across levels of trait reactance. Communication Quarterly Communication Quarterly, 69, 238-25. 

Terui, S., Huang. J., Goldsmith, J., Blackard, D., Yang, Y., & Miller, C. H. (2020). Promoting transformative community change for equitable health: Peer education and intervention for pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis. Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives.

Turner, M. M., Richards, A. S., Bessarabova, E., & Magid, Y. (2020). The effects of anger appeals on systematic processing and intentions: The moderating role of efficacy. Communication Reports, 33, 14-26, doi:10.1080/08934215.2019.1682175

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. Hsieh’s book, Bilingual Health Communication: Working with Interpreters in Cross-Cultural Care, received the 2021 Distinguished Book Award by the Health Communication Division of the National Communication Association

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).