Communication ETDs

Publication Date



As the population in the United States becomes more diverse, communities are increasingly experiencing disparities in health care quality that follow racial and ethnic lines. It has been documented that improving health care providers' intercultural communication is one way to help reduce these health disparities. This study investigated the intercultural communication practices of employees at a large teaching hospital in the Southwest that is actively working to reduce health disparities in its community. Recognizing the influence of organizational culture on communication in a workplace, this study looked not only at communication practices, but also at organizational culture and at diversity training as an artifact of organizational culture. This study used the intercultural praxis framework as a theoretical foundation and investigated the utility of the framework in this organizational setting. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods were used to explore employees' intercultural communication practices. Hospital texts including website text, newsletters, and diversity training materials were analyzed to determine whether the hospital's organizational culture supported intercultural communication practices. A survey instrument designed to measure the use of intercultural praxis modes was developed and distributed to a random sample of hospital employees to determine what communication practices employees use and whether there is a difference between the practices of employees who have and have not completed diversity training. This study sought not only to understand what communication practices are used, but also how they are used. Employees' narratives were analyzed using a critical incident survey to investigate how intercultural communication practices are used in this organization and how organizational members define culture. Results indicate that the organizational culture at this hospital is supportive of several intercultural communication practices, and employees are using some practices more than others in their intercultural interactions, including the additional practice of avoidance. Employees understand culture as including a person's language, ancestry, tangible attributes like gender and practices, and intangible attributes like beliefs and values. Their communication practices were found to contain four underlying factors-- engagement, positioning, inquiry, and introspection--and a fifth factor, language, also emerged in both textual and narrative data as being important to employees' intercultural communication. Findings in this study were used to build theory, including a suggested revision of the intercultural praxis framework, to contribute methodologically to communication research, and to suggest practical next steps for the hospital in their continued fight against health disparities.




intercultural praxis, intercultural communication, organizational culture, organizational communication, narrative

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Bentley, Joshua

Second Advisor

Shiver, Janet

First Committee Member (Chair)

Schuetz, Janice

Second Committee Member

Covarrubias, Patricia

Third Committee Member

Boverie, Patricia