Student research project seeks parents for study on Fentanyl discussions 

Five graduate students at Pittsburg State University are seeking area parents of children ages 13 to 21 for a study focused on family communication regarding the risks of Fentanyl.   

The goal? 

To identify barriers and develop effective strategies with recommendations for parents that are specifically tailored to this growing public health threat. Fentanyl is now the top cause of death for Americans ages 18-45. It overtook and doubled the number two cause — suicide — in just one year. 


“We want to learn how specific family communication styles impact the conversations about Fentanyl risks at home,” explained Alicia Mason, a professor in the Communication Department and director of Graduate Studies in Communication. 

Ultimately, she said, their findings could help families better communicate, thus reducing the risk of Fentanyl use by children. 

“Parents are routinely targeted with messages such as ‘Parents, please have a conversation with your kids about this dangerous drug.’,” Mason said. “But very little instructional guidance is provided on how to have these conversations. We know that poor communication can be worse than no communication." 

The study also will help graduate students, who are learning valuable research skills. 

The study consists of two parts: Part 1 involves a 5-minute online questionnaire, and Part 2 involves a 10- to 15-minute interview via Zoom. Participants will be entered in a drawing for a $50 VISA card.   

To join the study, send an email to before Nov. 7, and a research team member will follow-up. Interviews will take place within one week of signing up. 

The records of the study will be kept private; there will be no information included that will make it possible to identify participants. 

Research records will be stored securely and names will not be linked to responses. To ensure confidentiality, all findings will be presented in aggregate form with no identifying information. 

Aggregated findings will be available in Spring 2023. Students likely will present at the PSU Research Colloquium. The data from the study will be made available to public health officials across the region upon request. 

Learn more about the Strategic Communication program at PSU. 

Learn more about the graduate program in communication at PSU.