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Communicating About Health

Current Issues and Perspectives

Sixth Edition

Athena du Pré and Barbara Cook Overton

Publication Date - 10 August 2020

ISBN: 9780190924416

448 pages

In Stock

An indispensable resource that connects current issues, scholarship, and practical applications in the complex world of health care


Now in its sixh edition, Communicating About Health: Current Issues and Perspectives continues to live up to its long-standing reputation as the most dynamic and current exploration of health communication on the market. The book offers rich, current research and in-depth analysis of the cultural, social, and organizational issues that influence health communication and health advocacy.

Communicating About Health is an indispensable resource for readers seeking to improve their communication abilities in fields related to health. This text explores health communication through the eyes of patients, care providers, healthcare leaders, campaign designers, and more. Readers will learn how culture, media, personal identity, technology, social networks, and other factors contribute to health and healing.

Visit www.oup.com/he/dupre-6e for access to a wealth of digital resources for instructors.

New to this Edition

  • Coverage of various aspects of the Coronavirus epidemic in Chapters 1, 9, and 12, including the importance of communication in educating people about safe practices, managing fear, helping people cope, and facilitating diagnoses; a look at the anticipated future popularity of telemedicine; and a comparison of the response to Coronavirus to communication during other health threats like the avian flu
  • An enhanced eBook that delivers a full suite of digital resources including self-reflection opportunities, flashcards, chapter assessments, and student activities
  • Updated examples and research along with new coverage of the World Health Organization's perspective on health in the context of everyday life
  • New information about health disparities and healthcare reform, including explanations of managed care, multi-payer systems, Medicare for All, and the Affordable Care Act
  • New coverage of the effects of social stigma and cultural adaptability
  • Special attention to campaigns addressing vaping and methamphetamine abuse and campaigns utilizing social media


  • Accessible enough to serve as an introduction to the field, but also offers deeps insights that are helpful even for experienced practitioners and researchers
  • Explores how managed care, health care reform, mobile technology, social media, and other factors are changing the nature of health communication
  • Looks at health care through the eyes of care providers, patients, administrators, health promoters, and others who contribute to the process
  • Throughout the book, "Perspectives" features, "Ethical Considerations" boxes, photo captions, and discussion questions challenge students to weigh the merits of various communication options and apply what they are learning to their own lives

About the Author(s)

Athena du Pré is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of West Florida. She is also the coauthor of Essential Communication (OUP, 2018, Second Edition) and Understanding Human Communication (OUP, 2019, Fourteenth Edition).

Barbara Cook Overton earned a Ph.D. in Health Communication from Louisiana State University and is the author of Unintended Consequences of Electronic Medical Records: An Emergency Room Ethnography (2019).


"Communicating About Health is one of the most thorough and complete textbooks in this growing subfield of study. Its breadth of coverage is not matched by other texts in the area. The book has a solid blend of both theory and practice, and the examples are timely, fresh, and engaging."--Geoffrey D. Klinger, DePauw University

"This is a well-rounded text for the course. It does a great job of addressing the necessary topics to introduce students to the field of health communication. The book also provides excellent multimedia examples and gives great real-world examples throughout."--Brian Rogers, University of Wisconsin Whitewater

"The writing is accessible and the use of multiple examples allows for a deeper understanding of the issues. The author draws on recent, relevant sources to add to the discussion and includes a variety of discussion questions to get readers to connect what they are reading to their own experience."--Jen Anderson, Bellevue College

Table of Contents

    Part I. Establishing a Context for Health Communication
    Chapter 1: Introduction
    I. The Importance of Health Communication
    II. A Systems-Level Approach
    III. Philosophy Behind This Book
    IV. What Is Health?
    V. What Is Health Communication?
    VI. Health Care Models
    VII. Communication's Influence on Health

    Box 1.1 Career Opportunities: Profiles of More Than 125 Health-Related Jobs
    Box 1.2 Learn While You Make a Difference
    Box 1.3 Perspectives: True Stories About Health Communication Experiences
    Box 1.4 Theoretical Foundations: The Basis for Health Communication
    Box 1.5 Resources: Health Communication Organizations and Resources
    Box 1.6 Perspectives: A Memorable Hospital Experience
    Box 1.7 Ethical Considerations: An Essential Component of Heath Communication
    Box 1.8 Perspectives: Down, But Not Out

    Chapter 2 The Landscape for Health Communication
    I. Current Issues in Health Care
    II. Health Communication in a Changing World
    III. Communication in Managed Care
    IV. Health Care Reform

    Box 2.1-Selecting a Managed Care Plan
    Box 2.2-Ethical Considerations: Classroom Debate on Health Care Reform

    Figure 2.1 - Percentage of Physicians Surveyed

    Table 2.1 World Health Systems Performance Ranking

    Part II. The Roles of Patients and Professional Caregivers
    Chapter 3 Patient-Caregiver Communication
    I. Medical Talk and Power Differentials
    II. Collaborative Communication
    III. Communication Skill Builders

    Box 3.1 Career Opportunities: Health Communication Research
    Box 3.2 Ethical Considerations: The Truth, the Whole Truth EL. or Not?
    Box 3.3 Perspectives: A Mother's Experience at the Dentist
    Box 3.4 Theoretical Foundations: Integrative Health Model
    Box 3.5 Communication Tips for Patients

    Ch 4 Patient Perspectives
    I. Patient Socialization
    II. Voice of Lifeworld
    III. Health and Identity
    IV. Satisfaction
    V. Cooperation and Consent

    Box 4.1 Perspectives: The Agony of Uncertainty
    Box 4.2 Ethical Considerations: Does Satisfaction Reflect Quality?
    Box 4.3 Career Opportunities: Patient Advocacy
    Box 4.4 Ethical Considerations: Patients' Right to Informed Consent

    Chapter 5 Care Provider Perspectives
    I. Care Provider Preparation
    II. Systems-Level Influences on Care Providers
    III. Psychological Influences on Caregivers
    IV. Stress and Burnout
    V. Medical Mistakes
    VI. Interprofessional Teamwork

    Box 5.1: Career Opportunities: Care Providers
    Box 5.2 Perspectives: Blowing the Whistle on an Impaired Physician
    Box 5.3 Communication Skill Builder: Dealing with Difficult Patients

    Part III. Diversity in Health Care
    Chapter 6 Diversity in Health Care
    I. Intersectionality Theory
    II. Socioeconomic Status
    III. Health Literacy
    IV. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
    V. Race and Ethnicity
    VI. Language Differences
    VII. Disabilities
    VIII. Age

    Table 6.1. Words That Can Baffle

    Box 6.1. Ethical Considerations: Who Gets What Care?
    Box 6.2. Genetic Profiling: A View into Your Health Future
    Box 6.3. Perspectives: Language Barriers in a Health Care Emergency
    Box 6.4. Career Opportunities: Diversity Awareness
    Box 6.5. Perspectives: My Disability Doesn't Show

    Chapter 7 Cultural Conception of Health and Illness
    I. Culture and Health Communication
    II. Cultural Conceptions of Health
    III. Making Sense of Health Experiences
    IV. Social Roles and Health
    V. Illness and Coping Metaphors
    VI. Sick Roles and Healer Roles
    VII. Holistic Care

    Box 7.1. Theoretical Foundations: Theory of Health as Expanded Consciousness
    Box 7.2. Perspectives: Thai Customs and a Son's Duty
    Box 7.3. Ethical Considerations: Physician as Parent or Partner?
    Box 7.4. Perspectives: Partners in Care
    Box 7.5. Holistic Medicine at a Glance
    Box 7.6. Career Opportunities: Holistic Medicine

    Part IV. Coping and Health Resources
    Chapter 8 Social Support, Family Caregiving, and End of Life
    I. Conceptual Overview
    II. Coping and Communication
    III. When Social Support Goes Wrong
    IV. Animal Companions
    V. Transformative Experiences
    VI. Friends and Family as Caregivers
    VII. End-of-Life Experiences
    VIII. Advance-Care Directives
    IX. Communication Skill Builder: Delivering Bad News

    Box 8.1 When Communication Ability Is Compromised
    Box 8.2 Theory of Problematic Integration
    Box 8.3 Organ Donations: The Nicholas Effect
    Box 8.4 Perspectives: A Long Goodbye to Grandmother
    Box 8.5 Ethical Considerations: Do People Have a Right to Die?
    Box 8.6 Career Opportunities: Social Services and Mental Health

    CHAPTER 9 eHealth, mHealth, and Telehealth
    I. Information Haves and Have Notes
    II. Why and When Do People Seek eHealth Information?
    III. Is eHealth Information Useful to Everyday People?
    IV. Is eHealth Information Useful to Care Providers?
    V. Impact of eHealth
    VI. mHealth
    VII. Telehealth

    Box 9.1 Ethical Considerations: The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine
    Box 9.2 Career Opportunities: Health Information Technology

    Part V. Communication in Health Organizations
    Chapter 10 Health Care Administration, Human Resources, Marketing, and PR

    I. Health Care Administration
    II. Human Resources
    III. Marketing and Public Relations
    IV. Crisis Management
    V. Service Excellence

    Box 10.1 Career Opportunities: Health Communication Specialists
    Box 10.2 Journals in the Field
    Box 10.3 Staffing Shortages in Health Care

    Figure 10.1 Inverted Pyramid

    Part VI. Media, Public Policy, and Health Promotion
    Chapter 11 Health Images in the Media

    I. Theoretical Foundations
    II. Advertising
    III. News Coverage
    IV. Media and Body Image
    V. Entertainment
    VI. Media Literacy

    Box 11.1 Perspectives. Viagra Ads Promise Male Transformation
    Box 11.2 Perspectives. Barbie: Feminist Icon or Woman as Sex Object?
    Box 11.2 Perspectives: Boys' Toys on Steroids
    Box 11.4 Ethical Considerations: Is the Entertainment Industry Responsible for Health Images?

    Chapter 12 Public Health and Crisis Communication
    I. What Is Public Health?
    II. Risk and Crisis Communication
    III. Crisis Communication Models and Guidelines
    IV. Social Media and Crisis Communication
    V. Case Studies: A Global Perspective

    Box 12.1 Career Opportunities: Public Health
    Box 12.2 Parents Grapple with Vaccine Information
    Box 12.3 Theoretical Perspectives: Risk Management/Communication Framework
    Box 12.4 Typhoid Mary and TB Andy
    Box 12.5 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS: Who Should Be Protected?
    Box 12.6 Lessons for Public Health and Crisis Communication

    Chapter 13 Planning Health Promotion Campaigns
    I. Background on Health Campaigns
    II. Step 1: Defining the Situation and Potential Benefits
    III. Step 2: Analyzing and Segmenting the Audience
    IV. Step 3: Establishing Campaign Goals and Objectives
    V. Step 4: Selecting Channels of Communication

    Box 13.1 Career Opportunities: Health Promotion and Education
    Box 13.2 Storytelling Connects Underserved Women and Care Providers
    Box 13.3 Ethical Considerations: The Politics of Prevention

    Chapter 14 Designing and Implementing Health Campaigns
    I. Theories of Behaviors Change
    II. Critical-Cultural Perspective
    III. Step 5: Designing Campaign Messages
    IV. Step 6: Piloting and Implementing the Campaign
    V. Step 7: Evaluating and Maintaining the Campaign

    Box 14.1. Ethical Considerations: Three Issues for Health Promoters to Keep in Mind
    Box 14.2. Career Opportunities: Health Campaign Design and Management
    Box 14.3. Theoretical Foundations: What Does Science Say About Peer Pressure?
    Box 14.4. S-mething is Missing

    Author Index
    Subject Index

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