Communication | Nursing


People with disabilities (PWD) experience health disparities, often related to contextual factors beyond the physical differences in body structure and function. The purpose of this article was to develop a research agenda for nursing and communication scholars that explores how developing accessible and empowering communication environments in healthcare contexts might mitigate disability-linked health disparities. We focused on two broad research objectives: developing both accessible communication environments and empowering communication environments in healthcare settings. Elements proposed as comprising accessible communication environments were: making health literacy accessible, addressing complex communication needs, and communicating the embodied experience of disability. Empowering communication environments were explored in light of various models of disability and their resultant effects on stigma and on promoting empowerment or disempowerment. Finally, an agenda for future research was proposed that considers: barriers to developing accessible communication environments, how communicative patterns in the patient-provider encounter create (dis)empowering communication environments, the ways in which providers draw upon models of disability in their actions with PWD, and the role that providers can play as allies for PWD.