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Center for Health Communication: What’s Next in 2020

Feb. 6, 2020

We’re a month into a new year and a few weeks into the spring semester, which is a good moment to look at what has already happened in 2020 and consider what’s coming this year. 2019 was a busy one for the Center for Health Communication, and it’s exciting to think about how we’re going to build on that momentum.

We kicked off 2020 by announcing this year’s Communication for Health, Empathy and Resilience grant program recipients. CHER is designed to support new partnerships between The University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication and Dell Med faculty (and others across campus) and advance health communication research and practice. This year the CHC awarded two grants:

“Assessing Oncology Patient Communication Needs and Preferences to Improve Informed Treatment Decision-Making”: The principal investigator is Gail Eckhardt (LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes/Department of Oncology) with co-investigators Lee Ann Kahlor (Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations), Barbara Jones (Steve Hicks School of Social Work) and Laura Cannon (College of Pharmacy).

“Promoting Communication in the Intensive Care Unit Between Nonspeaking Patients and Health Care Providers”: The principal investigator is Rajinder Koul (Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders) and co-investigator is Marissa Mery (Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care).

In this third year of the program, CHER continues to make promising new connections among interdisciplinary teams that can contribute to the evidence base of health communication and lead to improving health outcomes. We’re excited to see what these teams will find!

We’re currently looking ahead to a big deadline of March 1 for the mandate for all prescribers in the state to use the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program when prescribing opioids and other controlled substances. The CHC has been working for several years on a campaign to support that mandate, including some communication resources to help prescribers talk about the PMP — as well as opioids and safe alleviation of pain — as part of the statewide response to the opioid epidemic. It’s been exceptionally rewarding to contribute to such a thoughtful use of the Texas PMP mandate as an opportunity to improve patient-provider communication on a complicated topic.

Finally, the CHC team continues to grow with 16 staff members. We’ll spend this year working with a variety of partners on projects ranging from the Eliminate Tobacco Use initiative to Father’s Playbook as a tool for engaging dads in prenatal health to supporting the Whole Communities Whole Health initiative. We’re also always looking to launch new collaborations with external partners, and we’ll continue to share those projects for those interested in getting involved in our work. We’re excited about what we get to do on campus and with allies around the state to contribute to the health of people across the state and beyond. 2020 is looking like a good year for the CHC!

If you’re interested in keeping up with the CHC, you can check our calendar of events or sign up for our biweekly newsletter.