Communication ETDs

Publication Date



This study examined communication episodes of health-related stigma, which includes instances where individuals were made to feel bullied, excluded, rejected, blamed, or embarrassed due to a health condition they or someone they know possesses. This study used the coordinated management of meaning (CMM) to approach this study; in particular the DICA model advanced by Pearce (2007), which moves through a process of description, interpretation, critique, and action was used in study design. Six research questions were developed that roughly correspond to the DICA model. This study used a grounded approach to data collection and analysis: data were collected in two stages that built upon each other. The first stage was a recruitment stage; used to inform individuals about the study and invite them to participate in the second stage: in-depth interviews. Two hundred thirty individuals took part in the recruitment phase of research, 24 individuals took part in in-depth interviews. Methods of grounded theory were used to analyze interview data, this included a circular three-step process of analysis: open coding, integration, and dimensionalization. Twenty-one themes and 25 related subthemes emerged to reveal the patterned nature of health-related stigma. Findings are presented in five context areas--description, meaning, interpretation, action, and stigma. These context areas correspond to the DICA model and the six research questions. The major findings of this study were the patterned nature of health-related stigma, and further that these patterns can be interrupted and reconstructed in a way that reframes negative experiences and promotes a more positive perspective for approaching issues of health-related stigma.




Stimga, Health-related stigma, Health, Quality of life, Positive communication, Coordinated management of meaning

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Shields, Julie Delaney

Second Advisor

Littlejohn, Stephen

First Committee Member (Chair)

Oetzel, John

Second Committee Member

Ginossar, Tamar

Third Committee Member

Avila, Magdalena