Mediating Healthcare Communication

"Dr. Guntzviller examines language brokering between bilingual children, Spanish-speaking parents, and healthcare providers."

Dr. Guntzviller understands that non-native English speakers face unique challenges in interpersonal, professional, and healthcare communication. Her research, inspired by her own experiences as an informal translator, explores how bilingual children mediate conversations between parents and English-speakers (such as a healthcare provider). By employing a multiple goals framework, Dr. Guntzviller examines the underlying social support processes that happen between a child and a primarily Spanish-speaking parent during language brokering. She is excited to teach a graduate seminar on social support during Spring 2016.

1. You are especially interested in studying interpersonal communication of underserved populations.  What sparked your interest in this field?
I became interested in interpersonal communication when I randomly signed up for the class as an undergraduate because it filled one of my requirements. I had no idea what the class was about before I took it, but I immediately loved the topic. I've always been fascinated by interpersonal perceptions and specifically social support. My research that involves underserved populations (e.g., low English proficiency) mainly focuses on how low English proficiency populations navigate an English-speaking culture. This interest evolved from my experiences acting as an informal interpreter and being part of a multilingual family, and from working and volunteering in these communities.

 2.  What courses do you teach?
I am currently teaching CMN 260 (Health Communication). Next semester I will be teaching a graduate student seminar on social support.

3.  Tell us about yourself!  Where are you from?  What do you enjoy most about the UIUC campus?
I am originally from Michigan, in a small town called Bellaire (which is drastically different from the Bel-Air from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). I love living in the Midwest and being within driving distance from my family. Although I have not been at UIUC for long, I have thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative research climate, the enthusiasm and intelligence of the students, and the collegial department. I look forward to learning more about campus, and meeting more students and colleagues.

4.  What advice would you give to current communication students?
Don't forget to learn outside of the classroom. Communication has the potential to be a very applied subject; the more you can critically take these ideas and examine them in your own life, the better you can develop your critical thinking, articulate how your major helps you for various different careers, and impress your professors.

5.  What is the most challenging part of your career?
For me the most challenging part of being a professor is not being able to do everything. I'm passionate about what I do, both in terms of research and teaching, and I will never be able to teach every course or conduct every research study that catches my interest.

6.  We would love to hear about the research that you have conducted in the past and present.  What have been some of your most interesting finds?
I'm currently examining mother-child communication when the bilingual adolescent child is informally interpreting (i.e., language brokering) for the Spanish-speaking mother. Mother-child communication in this context is related to child depression, specifically in the extent to which mothers communicate support and children perceive maternal support. When mothers provide support (and children recognize this support), child depression is lower. However, when children do not perceive their mothers to be supportive, the more that mothers attempt to act supportive, the more children report being depressed. Potentially, mothers may increase supportive attempts when children are noticeably struggling with interpreting, but children who do not think their mothers care about being supportive may interpret these behaviors as insincere, mocking, or pitying.