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Health Communication Courses

Students in the PhD program are invited to take courses across any of our areas. A complete listing of courses in the PhD program can be found here.

Regularly scheduled courses in health communication include:

COMS 8400 – Health Communication in Organizing
This course introduces students to research on health communication issues in organizing and provides a forum for developing a research agenda in this area. Underscoring course reading and assignments is the assumption that health, wellness, illness, and healing acquire meaning through symbolic interactions located within social, political, economic, and cultural structures.

COMS 8420 – Health Communication and Culture
The purpose of this course is to examine the influence of culture on communicative aspects of patient and public health. The course explores theories of communication medical anthropology, and health education to understand the conceptual foundations of intercultural health. The course analyzes how peoples’ health beliefs play out in interactions with patients and providers, and examines how public health strategies can be designed for specific cultural contexts. The larger purpose of this course is to train graduate students to communicate more effectively with patients, providers, and the public in multicultural health care settings.

COMS 8430 – Relational Issues in Health Communication
This course provides an overview of theory and research within the broad scope of relationships and health communication. Specifically, students gain an understanding of health communication in personal, peer, and provider/caregiver relationships, including research on how health conditions shape communication in these relationships, as well as how every day communication in these relationships influences health.

COMS 8440 – Health Communication and Society

Seminar exploring the relationships among communication, public culture, and public perceptions of health and wellness. Surveys theoretical approaches (i.e., cultural studies, rhetorical analysis) and emphasizes the application of theory through writing and criticism. There is a strong emphasis on exploring current issues and challenges facing the health care industry and the public’s understanding of health and wellness.

COMS 8450 – Health Communication Campaigns

This course explores the theory and practice of communication campaigns that attempt to influence awareness, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to health. Students examine theories and research that inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of campaigns with an emphasis on practical implications. The course also focuses on values and ethical dilemmas in the design and conduct of campaigns.

COMS 8460 – Persuasion and Social Influence in Communication

This course focuses on the processes through which attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are shaped, reinforced, and changed via communication. The course provides a survey of theories and research in persuasion as well as analysis of contemporary examples of persuasive communication.

COMS 8470 – Communication and Uncertainty in Health and Illness

Uncertainty is common in diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment for many illnesses, and in relationships among patients, care providers, and family members, where illnesses experiences are addressed. Communication is a source of illness-related uncertainty, a resource for dealing with such uncertainty, and most generally the medium through which the presence and meanings of uncertainty are constructed. This course examines the nature of illness-related uncertainty, and theory and research on communication and uncertainty related to instrumental, identity, relational, and affect management; it examines these issues in contexts such as health information seeking, health screening and genetic testing, diagnosis and medically unexplained symptoms, treatment decisions, including end-of-life care, and social support.

COMS 8480 – Environmental Communication

This course focuses on how we communicatively construct and affect the environment. Students analyze and critique a wide range of voices (e.g., citizen and community groups, Greens, corporations and lobbyists, scientists, anti-environmentalists, public officials and regulators, journalists) on a variety of environmental disputes. Students learn about environmental decision making and conflict resolution, advocacy, climate and environmental justice movements, science communication, and risk communication in the context of current environmental issues. The course is designed to accommodate primarily communication studies doctoral students, but it reviews foundational theories in sufficient detail to equip students from other programs to participate effectively. The course equips students to conduct original research on environmental communication and to engage in activism as appropriate to interests and exigencies.

COMS 8490 – Special Topics in Health Communication
Advanced seminar focusing on the role and dynamics of communication employed across a range of health contexts. Topic varies with instructor. Students may repeat the course as topics rotate for a total of 12 credits.