Organizers: Bruce Lambert, Kimberly Pusateri, Courtney Scherr & Nathan Walter
Division/Interest Group Affiliation: Health Communication Division
Description: Healthcare is replete with difficult conversations. The difficulty arises from multiple factors, including taboo topics (e.g., addiction, death and dying, and sexually transmitted infections), complexity and uncertainty of the underlying information (e.g., genetic testing, drug information, probabilistic risks and benefits), sensory and cognitive deficits (e.g., blindness, deafness, dementia, and low literacy), as well as competing ideologies and value-laden beliefs (e.g., vaccine safety, medical abortion, and end-of-life decisions). From provider-patient communication and health literacy to risk communication and health campaigns, difficult conversations are at the heart of health communication research. Despite its cross-disciplinary appeal, however, difficult conversations remain a much-touted but under-theorized aspect of health communication. A major factor contributing to the limited knowledge is that researchers in different fields have investigated difficult conversations in relative isolation, without the benefit of an overarching framework. It is therefore crucial to clearly define difficult conversations, seeking new empirical and theoretical insights that advance our collective understanding of the barriers that obstruct the achievement of better interactions in healthcare. Ultimately, a clearer understanding of the common mechanisms that underlie difficult conversations can help mitigate health disparities for individuals and populations, as well as provide higher quality and more affordable healthcare. Submissions may focus on, but are not limited to, addressing the following issues: ‚ Analyses of specific types of difficult conversations in healthcare ‚Theoretical frameworks for analyzing difficult conversations ‚ Provider or patient-centered interventions ‚ Technologies for facilitating difficult conversations ‚ Pedagogy around difficult conversations ‚ Methods for studying difficult conversations A separate call for proposals will be widely circulated after the pre-conference is approved.