Dr. Donovan-Kicken specializes in interpersonal and health communication. Her research centers on the ways that people communicatively cope with major life stressors. The primary foci of her work involve the strategic management of sensitive information and difficult conversations, especially pertaining to health and illness. She is interested in the nuances of self-disclosure and topic avoidance, for example, how message features and people's perceptions of talk have implications for relationship satisfaction, uncertainty management, and health. Her current projects examine how communication with significant others, including loved ones and professionals, factors into how people navigate conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and depression.
How people reveal and conceal illness, such as cancer or HIV/AIDS, among friends and family, the ways people manage information about their illness, topic avoidance as a cancer coping mechanism, health communication and psychology