What ‘style’ would you be?

Maarch 29, 2012

That is the question posed in one story about some recently completed published research. Science Daily reported about the research on March 12th [see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120312114119.htm]. The report describes the finding that there are four ways of looking at how genes affect our health in the U.S. population that are rather equally distributed. For some,  their beliefs form around how personal behaviors relate to whether genes affect out health, whether our social environments have any effect, and whether religious faith and spirituality play a role. For others, their beliefs form around confidence that our personal behaviors predict whether our genes will affect our health. For a third group, they convey uncertainty about how genes affect our health, neither agreeing nor disagreeing that personal behavior, social environments, or spirituality plays a role. Finally, a fourth group is quite confident that our genes are our genes, and how they affect our health has nothing to do with our personal behavior, our social environments, nor our spirituality.  

It is the finding that we vary in our beliefs that led one reporter to talk about it in terms of our ‘style’ [see http://www.communicationstudies.com/matching-communicaton-styles-to-patients-beliefs-study]. I’ll talk about how that might be a good ‘fit’ for thinking about communication and health over the next few days.

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4 Responses to “What ‘style’ would you be?”

  1. Dongni Wang says:

    Hi Dr. Parrott,

    I am Dongni Wang, a first year master student at Clemson University pursuing my degree in Communication, Technology and Society. I am taking a Health Communication class with Dr. Karyn Jones this semester. We have been using your book Talking About Health in class. It is a very interesting book! Hope everyone gets a chance to read it.

    I am posting this question as part of my homework for the class as I read some of the articles about your recent published research on how genes affect our health. You said, “A significant number of people are affected by these conditions and it’s important to remember that communicating with patients and family is not always a simple thing. There are times they need to be hopeful and times that they need to be mad.” What do you mean by “need to be mad”? How can people who have the potential to be affected by genetic disease prepare for their future? I mean, theoretically, we are all at risk to be affected by genetic disease at some level of our life.

    Thank you very much! Please let me know your feedback on these questions.


  2. Lori Pindar says:

    Hi Roxanne!

    AS a part of Dr. Karyn Jones’s Health Communication course, and working with Dr. Jones on a paper regarding spirituality, disability, and health–I am hoping to get your expert feedback on something we’ve been tackling. Your study is fascinating and I am curious to know your opinion about the role sensemaking plays in coping with, understanding, and making informed decisions when faced with a health crisis? Obviously internal and external narratives help people “make sense” of what is going on in their lives and the lives of others, but what role (if any) does faith have how individuals make sense of moving forward with their daily lives?

  3. William Qualkinbush says:

    First of all, let me preface my comments by stating that I am a committed man of faith. My personal relationship with God is very important to me, and I believe that God can do whatever He wants because I have personally witnessed many things that are not readily explainable by human standards. With that being said, I believe that there are certain things that happen biologically to us as human beings (i.e., genetic disorders) that are unpreventable no matter what we do. Based on the characterizations in your research, it would appear that I would fit into the integrated relativist category. However, I also believe that there are some things that behavior and spirituality alone cannot help. Would this be a further integration of your system, or am I simply making it more complex than it has to be? I’m just trying to figure out where I stand here. Thanks!

  4. Meagan Bates says:

    Dr. Parrott,

    I have spent some time reviewing your web posts and articles regarding genetic determinists, integrated relativists, and the other ‘styles’ that individuals choose to take in regards to their views on how genes determine health.

    I was curious to see if you thought that individuals, or the families of individuals who have a genetic or chromosomal disorder tend to fall into one of the four categories based on the characteristics of the disease. For example, would an individual with Down syndrome be more inclined to a viewpoint that is different than an individual with Marfan syndrome?

    I just am curious if the characteristics or diagnostic processes involved in the different syndromes would lead to a particular outlook or ‘style’ of viewing how genes affect health. Would one particular syndrome (not limited to just Down syndrome or Marfan syndrome)be more manageable through therapy and medication and thus lead to a different perspective? I wonder how much these perspectives are the result of pre-existing beliefs on the part of the individual or concepts that form and fluctuate after having an experience with a genetic disorder.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my question.

    Meagan Bates
    Clemson University

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