Scholarship on disabilities and the policies shaping university research

Communication, Aging and Health
May 16-18, 1996

The 1996 Merrill conference in Kansas City, Missouri involved scholars from Europe, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. It was the third international conference on this topic. The previous two were held at the University of Wales and at McMaster University in Canada. Conferences on communication, aging and health have been a catalyst for promoting interdisciplinary research and collaboration with health professionals. This research has been used for curriculum planning in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Rehabilitation Therapy, Pharmacy, Social Work, Psychology and Speech-Language-Hearing.

Sponsors in 1996 included these programs at the University of Kansas: the Gerontology Center, the Center on Aging at the Medical Center, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Communication Studies Department.

Keynote speakers were:

  • Laura Carstensen, Department of Psychology at Stanford University
  • Sik Hung Ng, Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria, New Zealand
  • Astrid Norberg, Advanced Nursing at Umea University in Sweden
  • Jon Nussbaum, Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma
  • Kathleen Pichora-Fuller, Audiology and Speech Sciences at the University of British Columbia, Canada

Participants contributed to a book that was edited by Mary Lee Hummert and Jon Nussbaum, and published by Lawrence Erlbaum in 2001. Book topics include:

  • developments in health care and successful aging
  • provider-patient communication and successful aging
  • family communication and successful aging

The book is predicated on the belief that communication is an essential link between health and successful aging. Communication affects the quality of medical care older persons receive and their ability to maintain physical health. It also affects their ability to cope with the consequences of illness and disability.


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