University: Ball State University
Description of Work:
Much of my research in the area of health communication has focused on evaluating new training programs or interventions. For example, I have explored if an intergenerational mentoring program helped medical students develop the necessary interviewing skills required to work with older patients. I have investigated how to improve physicians’ communication skills related to the clinical management of childhood obesity and address physician reticence as well as clinical processes that work against engaging in difficult conversations about weight. And I have evaluated a mediated intervention focused on promoting patient question-asking and engagement during diabetes management appointments. This work has been primarily from a quantitative perspective as I was interested in how medical students performed on a standardized intergenerational interviewing checklist and if their performance was related to communication apprehension as well as competence. I want to determine if physicians’ documentation of weight counseling increased after communication skills training. Finally, I wondered if patients asked more targeted questions about diabetes after viewing training videos. This work provided imported results regarding the efficacy of the initiatives and allowed me to draw from theory to explain some of the projects’ findings. Questions I could not answer within each of the projects revolved around the nature and quality of the communication. As a social scientist, I do think in terms of differences and relationships. Are there different discourses at play that contribute to the varied outcomes I have measured in my previous work? This question has led me to my current work that employs Baxter’s Relational Dialectics Theory 2.0 to examine the conversations between physicians and patients during diabetes management appointments to identify the discourses at play. I believe it is in the discourses that we will understand patients’ varying degrees of success related to health and chronic disease management.