Current research ProjectS

studying social support needs for families receiving pediatric palliative care

Working in collaboration with the S.H.I.N.E. pediatric and perinatal palliative care program through Blank Children's Hospital (UnityPoint Health-Des Moines), we seek to understand parents' social support needs, as well as the helpful and unhelpful support received.

The S.H.I.N.E. program provides palliative care that focuses on improving families quality of life and is provided alongside curative treatment plans. Our findings aim to improve upon the support provided to parents and families traversing complex pediatric chronic conditions.


assessing College students' management of their health information disclosures

We surveyed a random sample of Iowa State college students to understand the following: (a) student's communication with their parents regarding their own health, (b) how health information is/is not discussed as one transitions to college, and (c) how students manage current health privacy disclosures with their parents.

For this study, we are collaborating with Dr. Tina Coffelt from the Communication Studies Program at Iowa State University.


understanding Parents' caregiving experiences for their chronically ill children


Dr. Rafferty worked in collaboration with the Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin to assess the needs of parents who have children living with complex chronic conditions. She conducted in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 35 parents to understand their experiences with uncertainty, hope, & hopelessness.

Secondary data analyses have culminated into published journal articles about parents' advocacy behaviors and private information disclosures.