Dr. Wayne Beach

Headshot of Wayne Beach

Dr. Beach is Professor in the School of Communication at SDSU, and Director of the Center for Communication, Health, and the Public Good. He is also faculty on the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, Adjunct Professor, Department of Surgery, and Member of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego.

His research and teaching focus on the convergence of conversational and institutional interactions. He has pioneered diverse studies focusing on the social organization of verbal and embodied features of everyday talk and action. A particular concern with health and illness has given rise to long-term investigations of how family members talk through cancer on the telephone, medical interviewing in primary, preventive, and oncological care, and related illness dilemmas (e.g., bulimia, obesity, chest pain, cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis).

He is the author of more than 100 publications (books, articles, chapters, and reviews) as well as Conversations about Illness (1996) and A Natural History of Family Cancer (2009), which received two prestigious book awards from the National Communication Association: The 2010-2011 Outstanding Book Award (Health Communication Division) and the Outstanding Scholarship Award (Language & Social Interaction Division). He also edited the first Handbook of Patient-Provider Interactions (2013) – a compilation of over 50 seminal studies advancing understandings of communication during medical interviews and related clinical encounters.

Other recent awards include: The 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award, National Communication Association; The 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award, Western States Communication Association; 2017 Outstanding Publication Award, Language & Social Interaction Division, National Communication Association; 2017 TRIP (Translating Research into Practice) Scholar Award, Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis; Translational Entertainment and Education Award from George Mason University; SDSU’s President’s Leadership Fund and Dean’s Excellence Awards; and SDSU’s Faculty ‘Monty’ and Professor of the Year Awards for Outstanding Research & Teaching Contributions.

External funding for Dr. Beach’s research has been awarded from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Cancer Institute (NCI), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and several philanthropic foundations in San Diego. His current work on clinical encounters examines how patients make available and oncologists respond to hopes, fears, and uncertainties about cancer. Related work focuses on how cancer is ‘made visible’ in talk and bodies, the interactional organization of ‘pain’, breast cancer encounters, and an emerging project on communication, genetic counseling, and family decision-making. Ongoing research also addresses impacts and dissemination of a professional theatrical production entitled When Cancer Calls…, which was funded by NIH/NCI and adapted from actual family phone calls examined in A Natural History of Family Cancer. This production documents how family members communicate about and manage cancer on the telephone, has been viewed and experienced by thousands of citizens, and is currently being developed into an educational resource for national and global dissemination. A national documentary film (for PBS) on communication and breast cancer, A Journey Through Breast Cancer, is also being produced in collaboration with the Comprehensive Breast Health Center within the UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

View the Dr. Wayne Beach CV

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