Chapter One: Health Communication and Death Studies
Health Communication AND Death Studies
As one of the newer areas of study within the field of communication, the topic that has come to be known as health communication has already made important contributions to our understanding of the dying process, to the care accompanying dying, and, to a lesser degree, to grieving and bereavement (see Toller, this volume). All of these issues are addressed separately within the various chapters included within this volume, but I would like to share with you my perspective on them from within the context of the area of health communication in particular. As the Editor of the journal Health Communication for 27 years, an editor of the first and second editions of the Routledge Handbook of Health Communication (Thompson, Dorsey, Miller, & Parrott, 2003; Thompson, Parrott, & Nussbaum, 2011), and the editor of the recent three-volume, 600-entry Encyclopedia of Health Communication (Thompson, 2014a), I am hopeful that I am able to put the study of dying and death issues into the broader context of health communication scholarship for readers. I have also written about dying and death issues, writing my first chapter on the topic in Nussbaum, Thompson, and Robinson’s (1988) book Communication and Aging during the time that my father died. That event significantly changed my perspective on dying and death issues, of course, and, like most others writing in an area that is personally important to them, I now bring my private...
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