Top Papers Showcased at International Conference​

A paper based on interdisciplinary research and written by an MSU associate professor of communication will be among the most highly ranked presentations at the 2016 annual conference of the International Communication Association.

​Mandy Holmstrom's scholarly analysis will be showcased as one of four top papers in interpersonal communication at the June 9-13 ICA conference in Fukuoka, Japan. The paper "'So that's how she do': Supportive messages female offenders receive from parole officers" is part of a larger interdisciplinary research program focused on improving supervision for women on probation and parole. The program involves MSU investigators from the departments of communication, criminal justice and psychology and is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

​"We were all surprised and excited to be selected," says Holmstrom. "We were picked from a large field of submissions, and it's a great opportunity to get the word out about MSU's research and programs to an international audience."

​The International Communication Association (ICA) is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication. The 50-year-old organization started as a small association of U.S. researchers and has become international in scope with more than 4,500 members in 80 countries.

​Holmstrom's paper presented findings of a recent study that examined the content and effects of supportive messages that women on parole or probation receive from their probation and parole officers. The study is among the first of its type to specifically examine supportive messages from parole and probation officers related to the use of drugs, alcohol and substance abuse among female offenders.

​"The study found that women are receiving quite a lot of supportive messages from their parole and probation officers, and that they see it as being helpful," Holmstrom said. "But the study also showed there are still a number of gaps in their social support network that could be filled."

​Communication Professor Sandi Smith, also director of the MSU Health and Risk Communication Center, is among the study's four investigators and will be traveling to Japan to present the paper. She mentioned that the preliminary findings outlined in the paper might lead to subsequent research focused on the effect of social support messages between probation and parole officers and female offenders.

​In addition to Smith, other investigators on the Improving Supervision for Women Offenders project include Merry Morash, professor of criminal justice, Jennifer Cobbina, associate professor of criminal justice, and Deborah Kashy, professor of psychology. Beth Adams, doctoral student in the department of criminal justice, is also a coauthor on the paper and will travel to Japan with Dr. Smith.