Kristina Scharp is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. She received her graduate degrees from the University of Iowa where she specialized in interpersonal, family, and health communication.

Dr. Scharp primarily researches difficult family transitions and the ways families cope with the major disruptions to their lives. The research she conducts on distressing family transitions manifests in a variety of contexts such as parent-child estrangement, (foster) adoption, undergraduate student parents, and disability diagnoses such as hearing loss. She is also expressly interested in the ways family members resist being marginalized through related processes such as identity (re)construction, social support-seeking, information/uncertainty management, and meaning-making. Her research on communication in family contexts has garnered attention from outlets such as the New York Times, PBS, and the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Scharp is a Director of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab ( that is housed both at the University of Washington and Michigan State University.

Selected Publications Since 2016

Scharp, K. M. (in press). “You’re not welcome here:” A grounded theory of family distancing. Communication Research. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1177/0093650217715542

Scharp, K. M. & Thomas, L. J. (in press). Making meaning of the parent-child relationship: A dialogic analysis of parent-initiated estrangement narratives. Journal of Family Communication. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1080/15267431.2018.1484747

Scharp, K. M., & Dorrance Hall, E. (in press). Examining the relationship between undergraduate student parent social support-seeking factors, stress, and somatic symptoms: A two model comparison of direct and indirect effects. Health Communication. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1080/10410236.2017.1384427

Scharp, K. M., & McLaren, R. M. (2018). Uncertainty issues and management in adult children’s stories of their estrangement with their parents. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35, 811-830. doi:10.1177/0265407517699097

Scharp, K. M., Barker, B. A., *Rucker, S. N. & **Jones, H. (2018). Exploring the identities of hearing parents who chose cochlear implantation for their children with hearing loss. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 23, 131-139. doi:10.1093/deafed/enx060

Scharp, K. M. & Dorrance Hall, E. (2017). Family marginalization, alienation, and estrangement: A review of and call for research that questions the nonvoluntary status of family relationships. Annals of the International Communication Association, 41, 28-45 10.1080/23808985.2017.1285680.