Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Leah Seurer

Second Advisor

Jill Tyler

Third Advisor

Aimee Sorenson


memorable messages, BRCA, health communication, support, genetic counseling

Subject Categories

Health Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication


Communication in healthcare involves sensitive topics and memorable messages that can impact the way an individual handles a tough situation. Genetic testing for illnesses, like the BRCA gene mutation, creates a time of uncertainty leading to difficult conversations. Communication behaviors contribute to recalling messages of importance that shape future actions. Support and compassion are significant characteristics in messages when encouraging preventative behaviors and aiding in decision-making. This study investigated common themes of memorable messages in BRCA-positive disclosures by collecting data from 123 individuals who have experienced a positive BRCA diagnosis. Memorable messages from healthcare workers, loved ones, and coworkers or acquaintances were qualitatively analyzed. This guided identification of distinct characteristics and common themes in memorable messages from different support networks. Positive, supportive, and compassionate messages were frequently found from loved ones. Educational and supportive messages were prevalent from healthcare workers. Supportive messages from coworkers and acquaintances were frequent but other unexpected themes were also found. These results enrich the study of memorable messages, enhancing the understanding of communication behaviors; while also, encouraging appropriate words to be used in interactions during times of uncertainty.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.