The project aims to learn what types of documents and material artifacts most make cancer patients feel supported, help them make meaning from their illness, and understand how these effects are achieved in order to put forward recommendations to medical practitioners, community partners, and those who interact with the ill and recovering about how best to support patients.
To participate in the study, you must:
(1) have had a cancer diagnosis (any type)
(2) be age 18 or over
We have completed survey participation at this time.
Bryna Siegel Finer is Professor of English and the Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her research can be found in Rhetoric Review, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, Praxis, the Journal of Writing Assessment, the Journal of Teaching Writing and others. With Jamie White-Farnham, she is the co-editor of Writing Program Architecture: Thirty Cases for Reference and Research, published by Utah State University Press in November 2017; with Jamie White-Farnham and Cathryn Molloy, she is the co-editor of Women’s Health Advocacy: Rhetorical Ingenuity for the 21st Century.
Cathryn Molloy is Associate Professor in James Madison University’s School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication where she serves as director of undergraduate studies and teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs. An assistant editor for the journal Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, her work focuses on issues of credibility in health contexts. She is the author of Rhetorical Ethos in Health and Medicine: Patient Credibility, Stigma, and Misdiagnosis published by Routledge in 2019. Her research has appeared in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Qualitative Inquiry, and Rhetoric Review.
Jamie White-Farnham is Associate Professor of Writing and Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Her research has appeared in College English, Rhetoric Review, Community Literacy Journal, and others. Her co-edited collected with Bryna Siegel Finer Writing Program Architecture: 30 Cases for Reference and Research was published by Utah State UP in 2017. She is also she is the co-editor of Women’s Health Advocacy: Rhetorical Ingenuity for the 21st Century.
Our book is now under contract with Routledge. Please look for it in Fall/Winter 2023 under the title: Patients Making Meaning: Theorizing Sources of Information and Forms of Support in Women’s Health.
The aim of this study, situated in the field of Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM), is to learn what types of documents and other material artifacts actually work to help patients understand their illness, make them feel supported, and help them make meaning from their medical situation. Our goal is to show how these documents and artifacts achieve certain effects in order to put forward recommendations to medical practitioners, community partners, and those who interact with the ill and recovering about how best to inform and support patients.
When diagnosed with an illness, particularly when chronic, patients can be overwhelmed by all the written materials they receive from doctors, support groups, and even from loved ones. These materials, while intended to inform, help, and support the patient, can have a variety of epistemological consequences: the results of rhetorical knowledge-making often unintended by the author/creator of the document. For instance, a list of local wig shops provided in an information packet to a new chemotherapy patient might be intended as a supportive resource by the nurse who compiled it, but instead it forces patients, perhaps prematurely, to confront their identity as a person about to lose their hair and the knowledge that they might be expected to cover up their balding head. This understanding is more than a rhetorical effect of certain words or phrases; the document overall changes the patient’s world as they once knew it: an epistemological consequence. This book seeks to uncover the reality of those consequences and investigate the question: how do patients interact with these materials, and what sort of materials do help patients make meaning (in positive ways) from their illness?