Year of Publication

2006

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Communication and Information Studies

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Philip Palmgreen

Second Advisor

Nancy E. Schoenberg

Abstract

The prevalence of type II diabetes is high among African-American women but research that emphasizes black mothers and their adult daughters is rarely studied in social sciences or communication research. Though existing research addresses various domains of the mother-daughter relationship scant information addresses the significance of talk or the transmission of health information between African-American diabetic mothers and their non-diabetic adult daughters. For that reason, this dissertation investigates information sharing among a sample of African-American mothers with type II diabetes and their non-diabetic adult daughters.This study's two primary research objectives were to: 1. describe whether and how African-American type II diabetic mothers and their non-diabetic adult daughters engage in information sharing about type II diabetes; and to 2. describe whether and how the sharing of health-related communication messages shapes African-American mothers' diabetic health behavior and/or shapes adult non-diabetic daughters' diabetic-related health behavior.This study used a modified grounded theory approach, in which I concurrently collected, coded and analyzed data. While an intention behind grounded theory is to develop theory "from the ground up," I also used the Health Belief Model (HBM) and Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) to inform research questions. I conducted 10 interviewswith members of mother-daughter dyads; two with each mother and two with each daughter. I concluded my interviews with both mother and daughter present, yielding a total of 50 interviews. Dyads were comprised of African-American type II diabetic mothers (age 45 and older) and their non-diabetic adult daughters (age 20 and older) living in New Mexico, Ohio and Kentucky.Information gathered from interviews yielded five patterns of communication used by mothers and daughters to talk about type II diabetes. The patterns encompassed the ongoing ways in which mothers' and daughters' negotiated the illness. This study described this negotiation as a unique "culture" that entailed 1) an historical knowledge of diabetes, 2) a present and personal experiences of living with diabetes and 3) an understanding of the future implication of diabetes for mothers, their adult daughters, and their entire family.This study represents the first step toward understanding the diabetic interaction between mothers and adult daughters living with a chronic illness. Results suggest that mothers and daughters are motivated to talk about diabetes, even though talk does not always address prevention in their health behaviors. This study is useful to inform practitioners of the significance of oral tradition as one mode of transmitting health care information within African-American culture and the value of integrated medical visits, particularly for diabetic mothers and their adult daughters. As well, health communication scholars can use this information to develop, test and implement innovative health education media and message strategies for families and mother-daughter dyads that address diabetic health information.

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