Date of Award

Spring 5-23-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Kinsey, Dennis F.

Subject Categories

Communication | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Health and human service nonprofit organizations provide a multitude of support services to marginalized and underserved populations in the United States and abroad. Public relations and communications professionals are often focused on supporting goals that are directly tied to the organization which are also strongly tied to revenue seeking through increasing awareness of mission and need for financial contribution. This qualitative constructivist grounded theory study explores the extent to which public relations and communications roles can impact the integration of service populations into their communities.Through interviews with 13 refugee aid organization staff and 11 refugees, primary barriers to integration, including misinformation, powerlessness and unmet social capital needs, are identified, and the role of public relations as the trust builder and is explained. The major finding in this study theorizes how the maximization of trust through the implementation of strategic public relations and communications activities with external and internal stakeholders reduces barriers to service user community integration. The findings provide a theoretical model illustrating the processes by which public relations and communications can influence the integration of service populations into their communities.

Keywords: Public relations, Integration, Refugees, Grounded Theory, Nonprofit, Communications


Open Access