|Adapting Health Communication in Response to Personal Beliefs|
|SciMed - Healthcare|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Saturday, 17 March 2012 08:00|
University Park, PA, USA. Beliefs about nature and nurture (especially genetics and God) can affect how patients and their families respond to news about their diagnosis.
Understanding how people might respond to a health problem when the recommendations for adapting to the condition may seem contradictory to their beliefs is crucial to planning communication strategies, according to health communication researchers.
Roxanne L. Parrott is a communications professor at Penn State. She notes that people affected with known genetic or chromosomal disorders (such as Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome and neurofibromatosis) tend to communicate differently about their illness based on their uncertainty about the role of genetics in health. "When a person is uncertain about an illness, it can also predict how they manage that uncertainty and how they desire to talk or communicate about the condition," Parrott said.
Roxanne L. Parrott, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State.When patients and family members are willing to talk about a diagnosis, they have a better chance of connecting with sources of help and support. "Emotions experienced about a condition impact patient and family members' communication," said Parrott. "How fearful, angry, or sad they feel is part of the uncertainty about the condition and affects how patients and their families seek to navigate the situation."
Parrott worked with Kathryn F. Peters, a certified genetic counselor and instructor of biobehavioral health, and Tara Traeder, graduate student in communication arts and sciences. The researchers based their findings in the journal Health Communication on an analysis of data from a survey of 541 family members or patients diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, Marfan syndrome or Down syndrome.
Respondents clustered into four groups based on how they understand the role genetics plays in health.
Parrott said that communication strategies around the four frameworks linked to beliefs about the role of genetics for health can help simplify health communication strategies and prepare counselors for patient responses. "What we can do is design programs for genetic counselors that suggest different scripts for communicating based on understanding how people might respond to a diagnosis," Parrott said.
"A significant number of people are affected by these conditions and it's important to remember that communicating with patients and family is not always a simple thing," said Parrott. "There are times they need to be hopeful and times that they need to be mad."
CitationUncertainty Management and Communication Preferences Related to Genetic Relativism Among Families Affected by Down Syndrome, Marfan Syndrome, and Neurofibromatosis. Roxanne Parrott, Kathryn F. Peters & Tara Traeder. Health Communication 2012. doi:10.1080/10410236.2011.629408
Genes hold opportunities for us to look backward and forward in family health and disease incidence. Our beliefs about genes' roles in health form around frameworks relating to personal control, and the influence of social networks and/or religious faith on genetic expression in health. These genetic relativistic frameworks were found to predict levels of illness uncertainty among 541 diagnosed adults and family members affected by neurofibromatosis, Down syndrome, and Marfan syndrome. Participants were recruited and surveyed about their expectations and preferences for communicating about their respective disorder, with illness uncertainty found to predict the desire to communicate about the condition and to manage related uncertainty. The desire to manage uncertainty in ways that foster control and hope partially mediated the relationship between illness uncertainty and communication preferences. Negative feelings about the condition, which were stronger for affected participants than for family members, related to illness uncertainty, the desire to manage uncertainty, and communication preferences, mediating the relationship between illness uncertainty and uncertainty management. Findings contribute to research in illness uncertainty management and have pragmatic implications for the design of counseling and educational materials associated with the genetic conditions considered in this research.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 17 March 2012 11:32|