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Communicating About Health

Current Issues and Perspectives

Fourth Edition

Athena du Pré

Publication Date - August 2013

ISBN: 9780199990276

480 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $85.95

Masterfully connects current issues, scholarship, and practical application in the complex world of health care.


An ideal combination of communication theory and practical advice, Communicating About Health: Current Issues and Perspectives, Fourth Edition, is an indispensable resource for readers looking to improve their communication abilities in the health care field. Written by Athena du Pré--an experienced researcher and noted scholar--the text offers an excellent balance of theory and practice; research and pedagogy; coverage of patient/caregiver issues; and material on the current, historical, and philosophical backgrounds of communication in health care. In addition to enhancing features found in the previous edition, this new edition includes a greater emphasis on theory, narrative, and technology in order to reflect changes in the health industry.

What's New to the Fourth Edition?
* A new chapter--eHealth, mHealth, and Telemedicine--describes the global impact of smartphone and tablet technology, tailored health messages, and the Internet on the health industry
* A new chapter, Health Care Administration, Human Resources, Marketing, and PR, provides in-depth coverage of the contributions and communication strategies involved in leadership, morale, service excellence, community engagement, and more
* An expanded discussion of communication not only involves physicians and nurses but also pharmacists, allied health personnel, dentists, therapists, and others
* New features--"Can You Guess?," "What Do You Think?," "Check It Out!," and "In Your Experience"--offer a higher level of engagement with students and stimulate critical thinking and discussion

Support Package (contact your Oxford sales representative or call 800-280-0280 to request these resources)
* An interactive website, known as a Prezi, is available for each chapter at www.oup.com/us/dupre and includes videos, activities, discussion questions, key points, and more. Suitable for use in class or online.

* An Instructor's Manual and Test Bank, available both in print and online at www.oup.com/us/dupre, features sample syllabi, test questions, self-assessment activities, background reading, and more.

About the Author(s)

Athena du Pré, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and director of the Strategic Communication & Leadership master's degree program and the Health Communication Leadership graduate-level certificate program at the University of West Florida.

Previous Publication Date(s)

August 2013
August 2009
May 2004


"Communicating About Health is dynamic and exciting to read. It continues to represent a comprehensive and pragmatic approach to health communication. It integrates past, current, and developing trends."--Ellen R. Cohn, University of Pittsburgh

"This text is a comprehensive, thought-provoking, and engaging examination of health communication in theory and practice."--Jill Yamasaki, University of Houston

"Athena du Pré provides a sophisticated, content-rich, and engaging overview of the current issues and perspectives in health communication. By combining actual lived experiences, research support, theoretical foundations, communication skill strategies, and ethical considerations in health care issues, this book appeals to many audiences including health care professionals, patients, caregivers, researchers, and health communication educators."--Randa Garden, Wayne State College

Table of Contents

    All chapters end with a summary, key terms and theories, discussion questions, and answers to Can You Guess?
    Part I. Establishing a Context for Health Communication
    1. Introduction
    The Philosophy Behind This Book
    What Is Health?
    What is Health Communication?
    --Defining Communication
    --Personal Goals
    --Shared Meaning
    --Defining Health Communication
    --History of Health Communication
    Medical Models
    --Biomedical Model
    --Biopsychosocial Model
    Importance of Health Communication
    --Six Important Issues
    Current Issues in Health Communication
    --Emphasis on Efficiency
    --Patient Empowerment
    --Global Health Needs and Intercultural Competence
    --Changing Populations
    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. History and Current Issues
    Medicine in Ancient Times
    Medieval Religion and Health Care
    --Medical Spiritualism
    --Barber Surgeons
    --Science and Magic
    --End of an Era
    Renaissance Philosophy and Health Care
    --Principle of Verification
    --Cartesian Dualism
    Health Care in the New World
    --Health Conditions
    --Hippocrates' Influence
    --Women's Role
    The Rise of Orthodox Medicine
    --Population Shifts
    --Germ Theory
    --Research and Technology
    --Campaign of Orthodox Medicine
    --Flexner Report
    --Decline of Sectarian Medicine
    Twentieth-Century Health Care
    --Medicine and Free Enterprise
    Putting the Brakes on Health Care Costs
    --Health and Wealth
    --Reform Efforts
    --Managed Care
    --Conventional Insurance
    --Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
    --Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
    --Point of Service (POS)
    --High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)
    --Organizations' Perspective
    --Advantages of Managed Care
    --Disadvantages of Managed Care
    --Managed Care Around the World
    Box 2.1 The Hippocratic Oath
    Box 2.2 Perspectives: Sick in the Head?
    Box 2.3 Managed Care at a Glance
    Box 2.4 Ethical Considerations: Classroom Debate on Managed Care
    Box 2.5 Resources: Before You Select a Managed Care Plan
    Part Two. The Roles of Patients and Caregivers
    Chapter 3. Patient-Caregiver Communication
    Medical Talk and Power Differentials
    --Knowledge and Power
    --Assertive and Nonassertive Behavior
    --Questions and Directives
    --Patronizing Behavior
    --Why Do We Do It
    --Shifting Paradigm
    Collaborative Communication
    --Theoretical Foundations
    --The Emerging Model
    Communication Skill Builders
    --Motivational Interviewing
    --Cultivating Dialogue
    --Nonverbal Encouragement
    --Verbal Encouragement
    --Narrative Medicine
    --Tips for Patients
    Healing Environments
    --Soothing Surroundings
    --Easy Communication with Loved Ones
    Box 3.1 Resources: Journals That Feature Health Communication Research
    Box 3.2 Ethical Considerations: Therapeutic Privilege
    Box 3.3 Doorknob Disclosures
    Box 3.4 Stepping Over the Line
    Box 3.5 Ouch!
    Box 3.6 Perspectives: A Mother's Experience at the Dentist
    Box 3.7 Theoretical Foundations: Integrative Health Theory
    Box 3.8 Career Opportunities: Health Communication Research
    Chapter 4. Patient Perspectives
    Patient Socialization
    Voice of Lifeworld
    --Feelings Versus Evidence
    --Specific Versus Diffuse
    Patient Characteristics
    --Nature of the Illness
    --Patient Disposition
    --Communication Skills
    --Attentiveness and Respect
    --A Sense of Control
    --Genuine Warmth and Honesty
    Cooperation and Consent
    --Reasons for Noncooperation
    --Caregivers' Investment
    --Informed Consent
    Illness and Personal Identity
    --Reactions to Illness
    Box 4.1 Perspectives: The Agony of Uncertainty
    Box 4.2 Career Opportunities: Patient Advocacy
    Box 4.3 Is Satisfaction Overrated?
    Box 4.4 Cash for Cooperation?
    Box 4.5 Ethical Considerations: Patients' Right to Informed Consent
    Chapter 5. Caregiver Perspective
    Gaining Entrance
    --Science-Based Curriculum
    --Communication Training
    --Hidden Curriculum
    --Identity in Limbo
    --Withdrawal and Resentment
    Systems-Level Influences on Caregivers
    --Theoretical Foundations
    --Time Constraints
    Psychological Influences on Caregivers
    Stress and Burnout
    --Causes of Stress
    --Communication Deficits
    --Other Factors
    --Effects of Stress
    --Healthy Strategies
    Medical Mistakes
    --Why Mistakes Happen
    --What Happens After a Mistake?
    --Communication Skill Builder: Managing Medical Mistakes
    --From the Beginning
    --If an Error Does Occur
    Interdisciplinary Teamwork
    --Difficulties and Drawbacks
    --Communication Skill Builders: Working in Teams
    Box 5.1. Medical School Reform
    Box 5.2. Sleep Deprivation: Necessary or Not?
    Box 5.3. Ethical Considerations: Privacy Regulations Incite Controversy
    Box 5.4. Perspectives: Blowing the Whistle on an Impaired Physician
    Box 5.5. Communication Skill Builder: Dealing with Difficult Patients
    Part III. Social and Cultural Issues
    Chapter 6. Diversity in Health Care
    Theoretical Foundations
    Status Differences
    Health Literacy
    --Communication Skill Builders: Surmounting Status and Literacy Barriers
    Gender Differences
    --Women in Medicine
    --Sex Differences and Communication
    Sexual Orientation
    --Different Care and Outcomes
    --High Risk, Low Knowledge
    --Patient-Caregiver Communication
    --Racial Diversity Among Health Professionals
    ---Historic Patterns of Acceptance
    ---Communication Effects
    Language Differences
    --Communication Skill Builders: Interacting with Persons Who Have Disabilities
    --Communication Skill Builders: Talking with Children About Illness
    --Older Adults
    --Theoretical Foundations: Effects of Ageism
    --Implications of Ageism and Overaccommodation
    --Communication Patterns
    --Promising Options
    --Communication Technology and Older Adults
    Communication Skill Builders: Reaching Marginalized Populations
    Box 6.1 Ethical Considerations: Who Gets What Care?
    Box 6.2 Genetic Profiling: A View Into Your Health Future
    Box 6.3. Ethical Considerations: Affirmative Action Justified or Not?
    Box 6.4 Perspectives: Language Barriers in a Health Care Emergency
    Box 6.5 Career Opportunities: Diversity Awareness
    Box 6.6 Perspectives: My Disability Doesn't Show
    Chapter 7. Cultural Conceptions of Health and Illness
    Eastern and Western Perspectives
    A Profile of Cultures
    --Asian and Pacific Island
    The Nature of Health and Illness
    --Health as Organic
    --Health as Harmony
    Social Implications of Disease
    --Disease as a Curse
    --Stigma of Disease
    --The Morality of Prevention
    Patient and Caregiver Roles
    --Mechanics and Machines
    --Parents and Children
    --Spiritualists and Believers
    --Providers and Consumers
    Communication Skill Builders: Developing Cultural Competence
    Holistic Care
    Viagra: A Case Study in Health-Culture Overlap
    --Implication 1: To Be a Man You Have to Get It Up
    --Implication 2: To a Physical Ailment Let There Be a Physical Remedy
    --Implication 3: Women Are Passive but Grateful Recipients of Male Attention
    --Implication 4: Real Men are White and Straight
    --Implication 5: Intimacy Equals Vaginal Penetration
    Box 7.1 Resources: More About Culture and Health
    Box 7.2 Theoretical Foundations: Theory of Health as Expanded Consciousness
    Box 7.3 Perspectives: Thai Customs and a Son's Duty
    Box 7.4 Ethical Considerations: Physician as Parent or Partner?
    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
    Conceptual Overview
    --Theoretical Perspectives
    --Sense of Control
    Coping and Communication
    --Action-Facilitating Support
    --Nurturing Support
    --Communication Skill Builders: Supportive Listening
    --Communication Skill Builders: Allowing Emotional Expression
    --Social Networks
    When Support Goes Wrong
    --Friends Disappear
    --Hurtful Jests
    --Too Much Support
    --A Note of Encouragement
    Animals As Companions
    Transformative Experiences
    Friends and Family as Caregivers
    --Profile of the Family Caregiver
    --The Economics of Family Caregiving
    --Stress and Burnout
    --Caring for Caregivers
    End-of-Life Experiences
    --Life at All Costs
    --Death with Dignity
    Slow Medicine
    Advance-Care Directives
    Communication Skill Builders: Delivering Bad News
    Communication Skill Builders: Coping with Death
    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 Telemedicine
    --Theoretical Foundations
    --The Three Spheres
    --Weak and Strong Ties
    Why And When Do We Seek Electronic Health Information?
    Is Online Health Information Useful?
    --Communication Skill Builders: Using the Internet
    How Does Ehealth Communication Compare?
    --A Doctor's Visit, Telemedicine Style
    --Telemedicine in the Future
    --Telemedicine as Medical Outsourcing
    --Advantages for Consumers
    --Advantages for Caregivers
    Box 9.1: Profile of an ePatient
    Box 9.2 - Career Opportunities: Health Information Technology
    Part V: Communication in Health Organizations
    Chapter 10. Health Care Administration, Human Resources, Marketing, And PR
    Health Care Administration
    --Changing Market
    --Efficiency And Six Sigma
    --Communication Skill Builders: Shared Vision And Dispersed Leadership
    Human Resources
    --Theoretical Foundations
    --Communication Skill Builders: Building Great Teams
    --Hire Carefully
    --Teach the Culture and Values
    --Continually Recruit Internal Talent
    Marketing And Public Relations
    --Foundations For Theory And Practice
    --Focus on Relationships
    --Develop Reputation, Not Only Image
    --Communication Skill Builders: Two-Way Communication and Social Media
    Crisis Management
    Service Excellence Is Everyone's Job
    Box 10.1 Resources: Six Sigma and Other Efficiency Process Models
    Box 10.2 "We Hate the Rules"
    Box 10.3 Career Opportunities:
    Box 10.4 Staffing Shortages in Health Care
    Box 10.5 A Model for Innovative Leadership
    Box 10.6 Ethical Considerations: Should Health Organizations Advertise?
    Box 10.7 Resources: Journals in the Field
    Part VI: Media, Public Policy, and Health Promotion
    Chapter 11. Health Images in the Media
    Theoretical Foundations
    --Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Advertising
    --Advantages of DCT Advertising
    --Disadvantages of DCT Advertising
    --Communication Skill Builders: Evaluating Medical Claims
    --Effects on Children
    --Activity Levels
    --Body Images
    --Health Effects
    --Eternal Hope
    News Coverage
    --Accuracy and Fairness
    --Advantages of Health News
    --Communication Skill Builders: Presenting Health News
    --Portrayals of Health-Related Behaviors
    --Mental Illness and Dementia
    --Portrays of Health Care Situations
    --Entertainment and Commercialism
    --Product Placement
    --Entertainment-Education and Programming
    --Impact of Persuasive Entertainment
    Media Literacy
    --Teaching Media Literacy
    Box 11.1 Career Opportunities: Health Journalism
    Box 11.2 Ethical Considerations: Is the Entertainment Industry Responsible for Health Images?
    Chapter 12. Public Health Crises and Health Care Reform
    Mad Cow Disease
    What Is Public Health?
    Risk and Crisis Communication
    --Managing Perceptions
    --How Scared Is Scared Enough?
    --In the Heat of the Moment
    Case Studies: A Global Perspective
    --Avian Flu
    --Wrapping It Up
    Health Care Reform
    --Inequities and Oversights
    --Less Costs More
    --Out of Pocket, Out of Luck
    --The American Model
    --Multi-Payer Vs. Single-Payer
    --Universal Coverage Models
    --Massachusetts and Vermont
    --National Health Care Reform
    --Public Discourse About the Legislation
    --Challenges and Disadvantages
    Box 12.1 Career Opportunities: Public Health
    Box 12.2 Theoretical Perspectives: Risk Management/Communication Framework
    Box 12.3 Typhoid Mary and TB Andy
    Chapter 13. Planning Health Promotion Campaigns
    Background on Health Campaigns
    --Motivating Factors
    --Exemplary Campaigns
    --Go to the Audience
    --Take Action
    --Measure Your Success
    --Encourage Social Support
    Step 1: Defining the Situation and Potential Benefits
    --Current Situation
    --Diverse Motivations
    Step 2: Analyzing and Segmenting the Audience
    --Data Collection
    --Ethical Commitments
    --Data-Gathering Options
    --Choosing a Target Audience
    --Theoretical Foundations
    --Choosing a Target Audience
    --Reaching Under-Informed Audiences
    --Segmenting the Audience
    --Audience as a Person
    --Young Audiences
    Step 3: Establishing Campaign Goals and Objectives
    Step 4: Selecting Channels of Communication
    --Channel Characteristics
    --Communication Technology: Using Computers to Narrowcast Messages
    --Multichannel Campaigns
    Box 13.1 Career Opportunities: Health Promotion and Education
    Box 13.2 Ethical Considerations: The Politics of Prevention
    Chapter 14. Designing and Implementing Health Campaigns
    Theories of Behaviors Change
    --Health Belief Model
    --Social Cognitive Theory
    --Embedded Behaviors Model
    --Theory of Reasoned Action
    --Transtheoretical Model
    --Wrapping It Up
    Critical-Cultural Perspective
    Step 5: Designing Campaign Messages
    --Choosing a Voice
    --Designing the Message
    --Theoretical Foundations: Message Framing
    --Community Expectations
    --Logical and Emotional Appeals
    Step 6: Piloting and Implementing the Campaign
    Step 7: Evaluating and Maintaining the Campaign
    Box 14.1. Theoretical Foundations: Synopsis of Campaign-Related Theories
    Box 14.2. Ethical Considerations: Three Issues for Health Promoters to Keep in Mind
    Box 14.3. Career Opportunities: Health Campaign Design and Management
    Box 14.4. Theoretical Foundations: What Does Science Say About Peer Pressure?
    Author Index
    Subject Index

Teaching Resources

(contact your Oxford sales representative or call 800-280-0280 to request these resources)
  • An interactive website, known as a Prezi, is available for each chapter at www.oup.com/us/dupre and includes videos, activities, discussion questions, key points, and more. Suitable for use in class or online.
  • An Instructor's Manual and Test Bank, available both in print and online at www.oup.com/us/dupre, features sample syllabi, test questions, self-assessment activities, background reading, and more.