Graduate Program

Communication Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2020

Thesis Director

Elizabeth Gill

Thesis Committee Member

Marita Gronnvoll

Thesis Committee Member

Angela S. Jacobs


Trust is an important element in patient-provider relationships in the health care field. Patient trust in the provider is linked to higher satisfaction of care, better adherence to treatment plans, overall higher success in health care visits, and better likelihood of seeking out medical care in the future. Trust can be difficult for health care providers to establish with gender and sexual minority (GSM) patients due to health care’s well known history of harassment and discrimination against the GSM community. The Handbook for Developing Trust with Gender and Sexual Minority Students in a Campus Health Care Clinic addresses health care disparities created by lack of trust for GSM patients and how health care providers on Eastern Illinois University’s campus can alter communication behavior to improve trust and thus improve the quality of health care provided to these students. The handbook uses the social penetration theory and uncertainty reduction theory combined with personal testimonies from GSM college students to guide the reader through five main portions of the handbook, including; Introduction, Use of this Handbook, Vocabulary, Diversity of Patient, and Trust, supplemented with reflection questions, assessment tools, and additional resources. The handbook aims to raise awareness of the unique risks and health care needs GSM student-patients experience and provide the reader with practical tools to address these concerns through the development of trust.