Doctoral student, College of Communication & Information, University of Kentucky
Teaching assistant and Instructor, Department of Communication, University of Kentucky
Hub Tags: Health Communication Hub | Health Care Delivery
Interests: Interpersonal and family communication, health communication, visual communication
Elizabeth Spencer’s recent research includes investigating interpersonal communication issues and media messages in relation to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia patients, their caregivers, and care facilities. Ms. Spencer hopes to further explore health and interpersonal communication variables, media representations, and messages. Ms. Spencer currently teaches in the Department of Communication at the University of Kentucky.
Web: UK page
Address: 124 Grehan Journalism Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506
M.A. Communication, Pittsburg State University, Kansas
B.S. Communication-Public Relations, Mass Communication minor, Missouri Southern State University
A.A. Professional Photography, Hawkeye, Iowa
NCA Ethnography division best aural/visual project award 2016
First place, graduate research presentation 2015, Pittsburg State University (PSU) research colloquium
Excellence in Research award 2015, Department of Communication, PSU
Photojournalist of the Year 2014, Missouri College Media Association
Poster presented at DCHC 2017 conference on April 29, 2017
Family members are taking more ownership in the caregiving process for the more than 5.4 million people in the U.S. who are living with Alzheimer’s disease (CDC, 2016; AA, 2017). However, many are not trained or prepared for the impending challenges. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive disease (NIA, 2017). As symptoms worsen, the patient’s self-care needs and behavior problems increase. Identifying and strengthening resources and finding ways to bridge healthcare provider knowledge is imperative for lay caregivers to address the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease care (Roth et al., 2005). Examining Alzheimer’s disease (AD) caregivers (N = 160) from the Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 data set from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015) unveiled variables for a multivariate quantitative examination of caregiver stress. Findings indicate that current healthcare provider communication practices and coping strategies used by caregivers are significantly associated with increased levels of stress and burden.
Healthcare professionals asking what caregivers need for self care resulted in significantly more emotional stress. Regardless of whether the caregivers reported using a respite service, this did not significantly influence level of burden. Whether or not the caregivers reported having plans in place for their own future care did not significantly influence level of emotional stress. Caregivers who reported acknowledging a need for help to manage challenging patient behavior resulted in significantly greater levels of burden. Caregivers who reported acknowledging a need for help to manage their own emotional and physical stress resulted in significantly greater caregiver stress.
Results indicate that current healthcare provider communication practices and coping strategies used by caregivers are significantly associated with increased levels of stress and burden. These findings could be used to help create new AD caregiver stress interventions. This group of AD caregivers overwhelmingly felt unprepared for the task of caregiving. Health communication scholarship should examine ways that preparedness training could be developed and implemented in a feasible manner for lay caregivers. Findings can also inform future studies of AD lay caregiver stress. Future research can include measures such as Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale (1988). Practical implications of this examination of communication practices can help inform healthcare professionals and AD organizations in understanding ways to better meet the needs of patients and their family member lay caregivers.
Spencer, E. A. (2017). The use of deception in interpersonal communication with Alzheimer’s disease patients. The Midwest Quarterly, 58(2), 176-197.
Spencer, E. A. (2016). Unraveling: A caregiver’s journey of discovery. Journal of Media Education, 7(4), 23-26.
Spencer, E. A. & Mason, A. M. (2016). Images of Alzheimer’s: A visual analysis of imagery used to globally market Alzheimer’s services online. International Journal of Communication and Health, 9.
Mason, A. M. & Spencer, E. A. (2016). Health communication: Insights for quality H2H delivery in medical tourism. In DeMicco, F. J. (Ed.), Medical tourism: Hospitality bridging healthcare (H2H) and wellness. Waretown, NJ: Apple Academic Press.
Mason, A. M., Spencer, E. A., et al. (under review). Assessing the impact of faith-holders’ and hate-holders’ user comments to online crisis news reports on audiences perceptions of organizational responsibility.
Spencer, E. A. (2016, November). Traversing life, health, and social issues with auto-ethnography. Presented at National Communication Association annual conference, Philadelphia, PA.
Spencer, E. A. (2016, October). Unraveling: A caregiver’s journey of discovery. Film presented at American Public Health Association annual meeting and expo Film Festival, Denver, CO.
Spencer, E. A. & Mason, A. M. (2016, March). The use of deception in interpersonal communication with Alzheimer’s disease patients. Paper presented at Sooner Communication Conference, Norman, OK.
Spencer, E. A. & Mason, A. M. (2016, March). Global cultural communication comparisons of dementia care. Paper presented at Popular Culture/American Culture Association annual conference, Seattle, WA.
Spencer, E. A. (2016, February). A visual analysis of imagery used to globally market Alzheimer’s services online. Poster presented at Capitol Graduate Research Summit, Topeka, KS.
Spencer, E. A. & Mason, A. M. (2015, October). A cross cultural comparison of visual images within Alzheimer’s care facility websites. Paper presented at Broadcast Education Association District 5 conference, Ft. Worth, TX.
Spencer, E. A. & Mason, A. M. (2015, April). Visual image representation of Alzheimer’s on care facility websites. Paper presented at Research Colloquium, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS.
Sullivan, O. L. & Spencer, E. A. (2014, September). Portraits of success. Workshop presentation at Transformative Language Arts Network annual Power of Words conference, Kansas City, MO.
Spencer, E. A. (2014, April). Photojournalism for college newsrooms. Workshop presentation at Missouri College Media Association annual conference, Kirksville, MO.
Spencer, E. A., Zoltanski, S., & Brown, W. (2013, April). International Media Seminar and study abroad. Workshop presentation at Missouri College Media Association annual conference, Joplin, MO.