Preconference 2019: Difficult Conversations in Healthcare


WHEN: 9AM to 5 PM; May 24, 2019

WHERE: Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C.

ORGANIZERS: Bruce L. Lambert (Northwestern University, USA) Kimberly B. Pusateri (Northwestern University, USA) Courtney L. Scherr (Northwestern University, USA) Nathan Walter (Northwestern University, USA)

DESCRIPTION: We invite abstract submissions on the topic of difficult conversations in health and healthcare, broadly conceptualized and inclusive of diverse theoretical, methodological, and/or pedagogical approaches.

AIMS: Healthcare is replete with difficult conversations (e.g., risk, uncertainty, misinformation, complexity, breaking bad news, taboo). Despite its cross-disciplinary appeal, however, difficult conversations remain a much-touted but undertheorized 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 define difficult conversations, seeking new empirical and theoretical insights that advance our collective understanding of the barriers that prevent better interactions in healthcare. This one-day preconference will bring together healthcare practitioners and scholars engaged in research, practice, or pedagogy on difficult conversations for the purpose of: (1) exploring common themes related to difficult conversations in health to inform a working definition; (2) discussing possible constructs and/or frameworks for theorizing about difficult conversations; (3) building a community of practitioners and scholars for crossdivisional and interdisciplinary research and practice; and (4) setting an agenda for future research in difficult conversations.

SUBMISSIONS: We invite scholars from all ICA divisions and interest groups to submit extended abstracts for presentations on all aspects of difficult conversations including theory, methodology, practice, and teaching. Submissions may be related to completed and/or ongoing research projects AND/OR approaches to teaching difficult conversations (e.g., classroom activities, assignments, lesson plans, modules). In particular, submissions may focus on, but are not limited to, addressing the following issues:

• Methods for studying difficult conversations

• 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

Extended abstracts are limited to 600 words (double-spaced; reference list, tables, illustrations, and figures do not count against this total). Please include a title page including the name(s) of the author(s), the title of the project, and the status of the project (e.g., completed project, workin-progress, etc.). Additionally, please include a brief bio of the presenting author (maximum of 100 words).

Please send your submissions via e-mail to and as a PDF document no later than February 1, 2019. Decisions will be made no later than February 22, 2019. The pre-conference is open to graduate students, practitioners, as well as junior and senior faculty submissions and participation. Presenters will be selected based on the quality of their extended abstracts. Presentations will be assigned a respondent with theoretical and practical expertise.

ATTEND WITHOUT SUBMITTING: The pre-conference is open to everyone. There is a US $50 fee for preconference attendance for faculty, and $25 for students. Register to attend through the ICA website. Coffee, snacks and lunch will be provided.

CONTACTS: Feel free to reach out to us with any questions. Bruce L. Lambert Courtney L. Scherr Nathan Walter Kimberly Pusateri