There’s something about health : understanding everyday talk about health within families



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It is imperative to explore how family members disclose information, as it is necessary in order to receive support, which allows people to more effectively cope with the health situation at hand. But to understand why and how people decide to disclose personal health information to loved ones, there is a need to explore the role the parent-child relationship and family environment have in these communicative processes. Relational quality and family communication patterns have been useful in past research to explain or predict conflict, invasion perception, problem solving, and emotional climate, to name a few. Past research has yet to fully untangle the motivation for a person to disclose health information to a family member. This project aimed to explicate the differences between everyday family health communication and the relationship it has with more targeted and challenging health communication (e.g., that about alcohol, cigarettes, and sex). A qualitative pilot study explored the narrative of how emerging adults (EAs) talk about health with families. This pilot study was used as the foundation to develop an instrument of everyday family health communication. Self-report surveys provided evidence for valid scale development. Results also argued the frequency of everyday family health communication and breadth of topics was positively and significantly associated with more targeted communication about alcohol, cigarettes, and sex. These results, and their implications, are discussed further.