Speech 37: Health Communication

This course is designed to provide a broad introduction to human communication in a health-care context. We will examine basic medical models, the roles of health professionals, patients and caregivers, social and cultural issues, communication in health organizations, and the role of mass media. Emphasis will be on the social analysis of social support, ethics, organizational culture, planning health promotion campaigns, cultural conceptions of health and illness, and social scientific theory. No prerequisites. Limited enrollment.

Instructor: Drummond.

Distributive: SOC

Offered: F16: 10A; F17: 2A

Course Goals

Throughout your lifetime you will need to exercise communication competence in a variety of health-care situations as either a health professional, patient, lay caregiver, or as the loved one of a patient. However, communication in most health-care encounters is often ineffective, leading to problems of miscommunication, misinformation, dehumanization, insensitivity, and dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, such ineffective and inappropriate communication often leads to a lack of cooperation between health-care providers and consumers resulting in nonadherence to medical regimens. This course provides the opportunity through social analysis to examine this problem. On a personal level, after taking this course, you will be empowered to use communication to achieve your own health-care goals and assist individuals in your social networks to achieve theirs. On a professional level, you will understand your ethical responsibility to engage in the most effective and appropriate communication “to do no harm” and then regularly examine and attempt to improve your communication skills within the context of healthcare.

Learning Outcomes:

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain various medical models and social scientific theories.
  • Apply in written formats major social scientific theory to various communication events.
  • Know the ethical responsibilities of communicating effectively when health issues are involved.
  • Differentiate effective from ineffective messages related to health aimed at different audiences as a result of social analysis.
  • Understand the diverse communication needs of various groups through social analysis (e.g., cultural, ethnic, occupational, age-related, gender, etc.) in regards to health.
  • Analyze decision-making processes related to health and risk behavior across various contexts (i.e., interpersonal, familial and organizational).
  • Present orally a theoretically-based analysis of a health communication artifact and/or event.