A University of Saskatchewan (USask) graduate took an interdisciplinary approach to examine how medical professionals communicate when speaking with their patients.
Dr. Rosa Moazed (PhD) recently successfully defended her interdisciplinary PhD in applied linguistics/psychology thesis focusing on effective communication in the medical context, specifically when delivering diagnostic news to patients.
Moazed, who is also a graduate and postdoctoral professional skills co-ordinator at USask Career Services and a sessional lecturer at the College of Engineering, will be graduating at USask Fall Convocation on Nov. 8.
“I find (communication) to be a very important and critical aspect of a doctor’s profession, and for all medical professionals,” Moazed said. “Through my research, we developed a novel critical discourse analysis framework that allows us to analyze the communicative methods that doctors, and medical professionals, use to convey sensitive information to their patients.”
The developed Critical Discourse Analysis framework encourages medical professionals to engage in self-reflection on their communication methods techniques. Self-awareness is pivotal in comprehending how the delivery of diagnostic information may influence and shape a patient’s perception of their illness and capacity to come to terms with their evolving health status, Moazed said. After four individual studies, Moazed reviewed the ways that doctors conveyed diagnostic news to patients and explored patients’ views of receiving unfavorable diagnostic news.
She found that further training for verbal and non-verbal communication must be more deliberate in framing diagnostic messages. Moazed is currently in the process of publishing these findings in health and medical education journals.
Effective communication has been a central theme in Moazed’s studies, stemming from her master’s program where she studied communication in a political context.
When she arrived at USask to pursue her PhD, Moazed decided to enrol in the interdisciplinary studies program (Inter-D). Students in interdisciplinary graduate programs are not restricted by traditional academic boundaries.
“USask places a lot of emphasis on multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary work. I was always really interested in that form of collaboration, being able to learn across the traditional borders of disciplines. I think that really encouraged me to want to pursue my doctoral program here at the University of Saskatchewan.”
The moments that made her PhD program challenging were some of the moments that Moazed enjoyed the most.
“The collaborative nature of that type of program enabled me to work with experts from different fields and really learn from them,” she said.
Through her program, Moazed worked with a number of USask faculty from across colleges, including the College of Arts and Science. Her supervisor was Dr. Veronika Makarova (PhD), philosophy department head and professor in the Department of Linguistics. She also credited her PhD thesis committee members: Drs. Ulrich Teucher (PhD) and Valery Chirkov (PhD), Department of Psychology and Health Studies; Meredith McKague (MD) from the College of Medicine; and Hope Bilinski (PhD) from the College of Nursing.
Choosing USask to pursue her PhD was also personal, as many of Moazed’s family are USask graduates, including: her father, Dr. Hadi Moazed (PhD); her husband, Dr. Daniel Etesami (PhD); as well as her three siblings Drs. Bita Moazed (PhD), Banafsheh Moazed (PhD) and Reza Moazed (PhD).
“My amazing husband, Daniel, and my beautiful little girl, Ayleen, were a big emotional support for me throughout my program, and so were my amazing parents and siblings. Although it was a lengthy journey, it was very fulfilling,” Moazed said. “Lots of learning, lots of self-reflection, analysis and collaboration with others.”
After the Fall Convocation ceremony in November, Moazed plans to continue in her role at Career Services, while pursuing her post-doctoral fellowship program. In addition to these roles, Moazed will also continue teaching and facilitating courses, including critical thinking, and the Professional Skills Certificate, as well as professional development courses at the College of Engineering.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a PhD student,” Moazed said. “Sometimes when you’re in the program, you feel you’re lost, you’re not sure. But having that support, the team that I worked with—my committee, supervisor, and a very supportive family—was what kept me motivated to learn and grow.”
“It’s been an amazing journey that I would recommend to the rest of my family and to our next generation.”