Her first masters degree is in mass communication research from MCRC (Mass Communication Research Center), Delhi, India, with some freelancing as director of a few TV consumer segments and corporate videos. Upon moving to the US, she proposed and hosted her own radio talk show inviting nonprofit guests at a local Asian AM channel in Dallas, TX for a year, to continue her scholarly inquiry in academia with earning a second masters degree in communication from UIC and a doctoral degree from Purdue at West Lafayette examining behavior change in healthcare settings.
Her undergraduate degree background is in physics (honors) from Miranda House, Delhi University, India, which she pursued in line with her meditation quest to understand the metaphysical foundations of our lived experience through the lens of Vedic philosophy and quantum physics.
My research focuses on strategic health communication in the domain of patient-provider communication in therapeutic and integrative medicine settings. In this area, my interest is in conceptualizing whole-person-centered care that integrates the therapeutic relationship approach of distinct but synergistic traditional global medical systems like Ayurveda and biomedical knowledge systems in chronic illness and chronic pain self-management, health promotion, and disease prevention.
My upcoming book proposes an ecology of wholeness model (in pre-publication): Agarwal, V. (pre-publication, 2020). Medical humanism, chronic illness, and the body in pain: An ecology of wholeness. New York: Lexington Books. More information soon.
I take an interpretive methodological approach to improving provider-patient communication to help meet patient goals for their health and healing outcomes.
Patient-Centered Care. Through my own embodied training and practice, I am particularly interested in contributing to enhancing pragmatic and theoretical knowledge of how we achieve healing alongside health outcomes for providers and patients addressing challenges in chronic care and long-term pain management. In these and related contexts, I seek to improve individual empowerment, provider understanding and communication, and patient-centered care in the provider-patient relationship and in embodied, lived contexts defining the patient’s quality of life [e.g., through a talk at a care coordinators team workshop]
My research findings contribute to informing provider-patient and health communication contexts including:
- PCC and chronic pain self-management in Ayurvedic protocol
- provider use of their body in providing care;
- provider communication preventive medicine;
- CAM provider therapeutic relationship;
- pain management for CAM patients (or here);
- understanding lower income women’s maternal approaches in developing world contexts;
- breast cancer preventive behaviors;
- vaccine behaviors for infectious diseases.
Early Health/Feminist Research: My early research in a temporary settlement community in New Delhi (basti/slum) on women’s conceptualization of maternal practices at the intersection of traditional Indian Ayurvedic approaches and the biomedical system.
Taking care, bringing life: A poststructuralist feminist analysis of maternal health discourses of mothers and dai‘s in India. Health Communication, 33, 423-432. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2016.1278492
My first graduate school paper started as a class paper examining how young migrant girls in New Delhi India are empowered through online journaling about the spaces of their new urban settings in my master’s program at UIC.
2008. Trialectics of migrant and global representation: Real, imaginary, and online spaces of empowerment in Cybermohalla, Western Journal of Communication, 72, doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/10570310802445975
My dissertation stemmed from my advisor and dissertation committee’s research and focused on trust in healthcare settings nurse behaviors.
2013. I have a paper investigating the cross-validation of trust and behavior change research (2014, vaccination behaviors in young adults, Journal of American College Health) from this line of work.
Ayurveda: Most recently, I completed data gathering for a study to understand the Ayurvedic physician’s mind-body approach in chronic pain management and completed an Advanced Course in Ayurvedic Diet and Nutrition from the International Academy of Ayurved (IAA) in India. A recent article from this project:
Agarwal, V. (2020). Patient assessment and chronic pain self-management in ethnomedicine: Seasonal and ecosystemic embodiment in Ayurvedic patient-centered care. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(8), 2842. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082842. Published in the special issue: Beyond Conventional Medicine: Ethnomedical Approaches for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
Under intensive guidance of the course experts, I gained theoretical and practical knowledge of Ayurveda’s philosophical basis of evaluating and tailoring diet and nutrition as it informs the three physiological (panchbautic), energy (doshas, agni), and cognitive (chitta) aspects of the human body and mind through universal principles (e.g., rasa, dhatus, veerya, vipaka, prabhav) as they operate in each individual (prakriti). My Ayurveda Wellness Education Training certificate helps me better understand and communicate the potential and challenges underlying the integration of the philosophy and treatment approach of traditional healing systems (including provider-patient knowledge of and communication of preventive medicine). Likewise, my Ayurveda for Health Professionals training (70 hours) certificate provides me with a unique insight into the integrative potential of Ayurvedic protocols in the biomedical model for treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes, headaches, digestive concerns, and other lifestyle-based conditions.
International Academy of Ayurveda, Pune, India: Album
Ayurveda training, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, IA: album
Meditation: I am interested in understanding the mind-body relationship in healing at multiple levels, including patient-centered care in domains such as cancer survivorship and chronic pain management. My research examines the aspect of healing constituted through communication–whether this is in provider-patient communication or in mind-body self-reflexive communication.
I practice Vipassana meditation, India’s most ancient and purist form of meditation, and am trained in Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagi U Ba Khin at the Dhamma Giri center, completing the 10-day meditation course in one of the world’s largest meditation centers located in Igatpuri, Nasik, Maharashtra, India.
India Research Visit Ayurveda Nutrition and Vipassana Meditation 2019:
My teaching at SU focuses on strategic communication with a specific interest in health, technology, and the digital realm.
Outside the classroom, I am enthusiastic about supporting my students in their graduate school applications, fellowship applications, and job applications. My focus is on engagement with the learning content in ways that can translate to lived contexts and goals meaningfully.
My pedagogical approach emphasizes contemplation and reflection, civic engagement, and experiential learning centered in the individual and the community.
Here is a sample of student comments from my 2019 fall Health Communication class semester-long civic engagement project.
I have combined my teaching, service, and research. Early in my tenure-track position (2011), I sought to understand what motivated disaster-relief volunteers to engage in personally risky contexts in their work. My spring 2011 class proposed a strategic social media plan for the organization, and I included them in my guest lectures on nonprofit communication.
A few selected photographs from events I’ve organized at the departmental and university level:
Founding Director of OURCA participant in: Council of Undergraduate Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada (2016)
Nature, quietude, and family are my foundational pillars and sources of sustenance. Besides being with my family (moments here), I am happiest in quiet solitude and a life of reflection, tapas, and observation.
My interest in nourishment, including diet and nutrition as a form of sustenance, and our planet as the material, elemental, and spiritual universe that sustains us connects my professional and personal identity in important ways.
I love to hike, run trails (Strava, at Pemberton, our second home), cook and feed, and spend time with my three guys (ICA, Japan), one of whom is a naughty and playful chocolate lab, the second a striving undergraduate researcher in aerospace engineering at UMD, College Park, and the third a hard working, quirky, dedicated family man.
In my life, research, teaching, and relationships, I hope to embody and communicate a spirit of wholeness with a philosophy of sustainable co-existence and fulfillment of each individual’s potential (occasional musings here)
Early background: I started my academic life in the US as a RA/TA, in graduate housing on UIC campus with my pre-schooler son. I earned my masters in Communication from UIC and my PHD in Communication from Purdue University, W. Lafayette, to move on as an academic on the tenure track (and now, with tenure) in communication departments in the US.
**All Rights Reserved. (c) Vinita Agarwal 2013. All content, photographs, and ideas expressed on this site and each of my sites linked from here belong to the author.