College of Communication > Faculty & Staff > Faculty A-Z > Elissa Foster

Elissa Foster

Elissa Foster is a tenured professor and director of the College of Communication’s graduate programs in health communication . She is an active teacher, researcher, and practitioner who works with health care professionals to improve the quality of communication in contexts of direct patient care.

Her principle areas of research are difficult conversations, including communication at the end of life and at the beginning of life, and qualitative research methods such as narrative and autoethnography. Her book, "Communicating at the End of Life" (Erlbaum, 2007) won the 2009 Distinguished Scholarly Book Award from the Applied Communication Division of NCA. She has also published book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on a variety of topics including marital conflict, motherhood, spirituality in health care and medical education. Her research can be found in academic journals such as Qualitative Inquiry, the International Review of Qualitative Resarch, Women's Studies in Communication, the Qualitative Research in Medicine and Healthcare, and Family Medicine, among others.

After graduating with her PhD from the University of South Florida, Elissa Foster held faculty appointments at the University of Texas at San Antonio and San Jose State University. Foster then worked in the Department of Family Medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) in Pennsylvania, with an appointment of Associate Professor in the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida, LVHN’s university affiliate.

In the Department of Family Medicine, she served as the director of education and program evaluation, supporting graduate medical education through research and faculty development activities. She received the Asclepius Award for Excellence in Teaching in Family Medicine from the graduating residents at LVHN.

Elissa was attracted to DePaul University and the College of Communication by the opportunity to cultivate strongly applied graduate programs in health communication that establish connections between research and improving the quality of healthcare. The city of Chicago offers countless opportunities for health communicators to become involved in health care enterprises.

Elissa is passionate about health care and is thrilled to be able to teach, research and help build relationships between the academy and health care professionals. As a citizen of Australia, she brings an international perspective to understanding the health care industry—and an interesting accent to the classes she teaches.

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Book Chapters

  • "My eyes cry without me: Illusions of choice and control in the transition to motherhood." In S. Hayden and L. O’Brien Hallstein (Eds.) Contemplating maternity: Discourses of Choice and Control (pp. 139-158). Lanham, MA: Lexington Press.
  • Foster, E. (2016). Communicating through challenging illness. In P. Geist-Martin, B. Sharf, & J. Yamasaki (eds.), Storied health and illness: Communicating personal, cultural, and political complexities (2nd ed.) (pp. 221-246). Waveland Press.
  • DuPré, A., & Foster, E. (2016). Transactional communication. In Wittenberg-Lyles, E., Ferrell, B., Goldsmith, J., Smith, T., Ragan, S., Glajchen, M., & Handzo, G. (Eds.), Textbook of palliative care communication (pp. 14 – 21). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Foster, E., & McGivern, J. (2014). A story we can live with: The role of the sonographer in the diagnosis of fetal demise. In R. Silverman & J. Baglia (Eds.), Communicating pregnancy loss: Narrative as a method for change (pp. 75-87). New York: Peter Lang.
  • Foster, E., & Cohen-Katz, J. (2011). Caring for the family: Teaching systems and cycles in a family medicine residency program. In M. Miller-Day (Ed.) Going through this together: Family communication, connection, and health transitions (pp. 323-348). New York: Peter Lang.



"Better Communication, Better Care" DePaul Distinctions.