Katherine Rafferty


Office:354 Carver
411 Morrill Rd.
Ames IA

Courses I teach

Communication Studies 102: Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
Communication Studies 218: Conflict Management
Communication Studies 301: Human Communication Theory
Communication Studies 404: Research Seminar


PhD, Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2015, Distinguished Dissertation Fellow

MA, Communication, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, 2009

BA, Speech Communication, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, 2007, cum laude with High Department Distinction

About my teaching

Across the different institutions that I have worked, I have taught a variety of communication courses, including: Health Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Public Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, Communication Theory, Conflict Management and Research Seminar. I am also advising two former students with an independent study using previously collected research data. My approach with teaching each of these courses is to foster a classroom environment that is engaging and student-centered. Student assessment includes a combination of individual and collaborative group assignments.

Research areas

My research interests lie at the intersection of interpersonal and health communication, with a focus on how patients and families manage and cope with chronic illness and end-of-life care. I am primarily a qualitative scholar, but I have also used quantitative methods to examine my research. For my dissertation, I developed a grounded theory to understand how parental caregivers of children living with complex pediatric chronic conditions talk about uncertainty, hope, and hopelessness. I am currently working with the SHINE Perinatal and Pediatric Palliative Care program at UnityPoint Health-Des Moines on research to understand and create information disseminated to patients and families.

Recent publications

Rafferty, K. A., & Sullivan, S. L. (in press). “‘You know the medicine, I know my kid’: Being a parental advocate for children with complex chronic conditions. Health Communication. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2016.1214221

Sahlstein Parcell, E., & Rafferty, K. A. (in press). Interviews, recording, and transcribing. In M. Allen (Ed.) The Sage Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Cramer, E. M., Rafferty, K. A., Priddis, D. (in press). “Studying end-of-life conversations between spouses: A qualitative application of problematic integration theory.” In B. Flett & M. Gill (Eds.) Sage Research Methods Cases - Health. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Rafferty, K. A., & Sahlstein Parcell, E. M. (2016). “Dialectical tensions experienced during pediatric chronic illness: Analyzing art therapy conversations from a relational dialectics perspective.” Journal of Clinical Art Therapy, 3, 21-31. doi:http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/jcat/vol3/iss1/5

Rafferty, K. A., Cramer, E., & Priddis, D. (2016). Problematic integration and dying wishes: Examining spousal information-seeking about end-of-life care preferences. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 33, 69-76. doi:10.1177/1049909114550675

Current research

Rafferty, K. A., Mir, G., & Ali, P. A. (2016). “Positionality, pregnancy, and motherhood: A first-time expectant mother’s journey to understand parents’ stories of caregiving for children with complex chronic conditions.” Manuscript currently in preparation.

This semester I am working with two undergraduate research assistants on a project that examines the spoken and unspoken “communication rules” parents have when talking about their child’s chronic illness.

Outside of the university...

I enjoy running outside, cooking recipes from Pinterest ideas, traveling throughout the US and internationally, and spending quality time with my family and friends. I am currently training for my 7th half marathon.