Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 12-18-2020


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Ronald Arnett

Committee Member

Richard Thames


Healthcare, Communication, Religion, Spirituality, Medicine, Religious Coping, Human life, Bioethics


This dissertation is my own contribution in responding to the concern raised by certain communication scholars. Their concern was that little research and few publications have been done in the communication field by communication scholars that trace the relationship among religious faith, spirituality, and healthcare communication. While Parrott (2004) describes this apparent neglect as “collective amnesia,” others label it “religion blindness.” Thus, in trying to trace this relationship, this project uses Christian, biblical, and bioethics backgrounds to establish the value, sacredness, and dignity of human life, since these concepts make healthcare and healthcare communication necessary in the first place. These Christian, biblical, and bioethics backgrounds reveal an intricate connection among religion, medicine, healthcare, and healthcare communication. God communicated to humans through divine revelation (telepathy) and sometimes through human mediation, informing them of what they need to do in order to be well and remain in good standing with Him. On his part, Christ greatly promoted dialogic communication in his dealings with the people, especially the sick and the needy. Additionally, each historical period—ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern—also shows the deep ties that religion has to medicine and healthcare. The views that developed in each of these periods show a progressive outlook and connection to healthcare communication. The ancient period shows that the priest doubled as both the spiritual leader and the physical healer. The Renaissance marks the development of discourse in favor of reason and the verifiability principle as roadmaps that guide decisions about health and questioning of the church’s authority. The modern period introduced the Protestant Reformation and a mix of the church’s authority and science in decision making about health concerns.

This research has further shown that the call by those communication scholars has received enormous attention, since scholars from diverse fields of study have risen up to the challenge, producing many articles that touch on different aspects of the relationship among religion, medicine, healthcare, and healthcare communication. Other scholars carried this effort further by discussing different forms of religious coping with illness. Their efforts were a necessary antithesis to efforts to discredit the religious role in coping with illness.



Available for download on Saturday, December 18, 2021