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Holly Jacobson

Associate Professor

My cross-disciplinary research focuses foremost on language and health, with language minorities and communities impacted by health disparities constituting the driving force of my work. Over the past decade, I have geared my research agenda to advancing our understanding of language as a social determinant of health, particularly in New Mexico and Texas, and have contributed to obtaining more than 2.5 million dollars in external research funding. I study the complex interaction of language variables and health, and subsequent impact on healthcare access, health outcomes, and health disparities. My primary areas of research and teaching include health discourse; intercultural communication in healthcare settings; and health literacy. I explore these areas from within the frameworks of interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, and translation and interpreting theory, using mixed methods.

Educational History

  • Ph.D. Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, University of Arizona, 2002;Dissertation: Translation of the Health Brochure and Impact on the Target Reader: A Contrastive Analysis of the Structural and Pragmatic Features of Texts Translated into Spanish versus Texts Written Originally in Spanish. Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
  • M.A. Translation and Interpreting, Monterey Institute of International Studies, 1992
  • B.S. Sign Language Interpreting, University of New Mexico, 1987

Research Interests

  • Health discourse
  • Impact of language on healthcare access, health status, and health disparities
  • Intercultural communication in healthcare contexts
  • Health literacy
  • The discourse of risk communication targeted to minority language populations
  • Emergency/disaster readiness among minority language populations

Selected Publications

  • Soto Mas F, Jacobson HE, Dong Y. (2014). Health Literacy Level of Hispanic College Students. Southern Medical Journal, (107)2, 61-65.
  • Fuentes B, Soto Mas F, Mein E, Jacobson HE. (2011). Un currículo interdisciplinario de base teórica para enseñar inglés como segunda lengua (An interdisciplinary theory-based ESL curriculum). Colombian Journal of Applied Linguistics, J.ISSN 0123-4641 July -December 2011, Vol. 13(2), Bogotá, Colombia.
  • Jacobson, HE Soto Mas F, Hsu, CE, Turley, JP, Miller J, Kim, M. (2010). Self-assessed emergency readiness and training needs of nurses in rural Texas. Public Health Nursing, 27(1): 41-48.
  • Jacobson, HE. (2009). Moving beyond words in assessing mediated interaction: measuring interactional competence in healthcare settings. In Angelelli, CV. & Jacobson, HE. (Eds). Testing and Assessment in Translation and Interpreting. American Translators Association Scholarly Monograph Series XIV, 49-70. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.
  • Jacobson, HE. (2002). Translation of the Health Brochure and Impact on the Target Reader: A Contrastive Analysis of the Structural and Pragmatic Features of Texts Translated into Spanish versus Texts Written Originally in Spanish. Agency of Healthcare Quality and Research publication number: NTIS accession no. PB2003-1000060.

Selected Conferences and Workshops

  • Towards a working model of healthcare interpreting: A mixed methods analysis of lexical and interactional variables in mediated interaction. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Grantees’ Conference, Washington DC, December 2014.
  • A bilingual domain-specific self-efficacy scale. Society for Public Health Education 2014 Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, March 2014.
  • A community-based intervention for health literacy and self-efficacy in Hispanics. Society for Public Health Education 2014 Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, March 2014.
  • Towards a working model of healthcare interpreting: A qualitative analysis of lexical and interactional variables in mediated interaction. (In Colloquium: Emerging Linguistic Approaches to Health Communication in Underrepresented Contexts and Communities). American Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference, Dallas, TX, March 2013.
  • Social Networking, Obesity, and Health Disparities: The Construction of Blame and Shame on Twitter. National Institutes of Health 2012 Science of Eliminating Health Disparities Summit, Washington, DC. December 2012.
  • Language as a social determinant of health disparities: A call for more rigorous research in interpreted interaction in healthcare settings. (In Colloquium: Linguistic Approaches to Health and Healthcare in Everyday Talk) American Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference, Boston, MA, March 2012.

Ongoing Grants

  • National Institutes of Health. Title: Interpreting in Healthcare Settings: An Analysis of the Impact of Linguistic and Paralinguistic Variables in Mediated Interaction (Principal Investigator). $884,000.
  • National Institutes of Health. Title: The Discourse of Obesity in the Media. (Principal Investigator). $81,428.
  • UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center. Title: Health Literacy and Self-Efficacy in Hispanic Adults. (Co-Investigator with Francisco Soto Mas, Family and Community Medicine). $30,000.

Representative Courses

  • Ling 429/529 Discourse Analysis
  • Graduate Seminar on Research Methods in Language Research
  • Other courses taught in in the following areas: Language and Literacy, Applied Linguistics in Healthcare Settings, Translation and Interpreting Theory and Practice