Dr. Passalacqua does research in the area of health communication, with a specialty in provider-patient interaction and cancer communication. She has done fieldwork with health care providers in hospitals and long-term care facilities and outreach with men and women with cancer and their partners. She has studied such phenomena as the impact of loneliness on health; the effect of physician burnout on doctor-patient communication; the accuracy of patient reports of risky health behavior; the effect of person-centered communication training on paraprofessional caregivers in an Alzheimer's facility; sex differences in provision of social support; relational communication about sexually transmitted infection (STI) status; the outcome of informational versus counseling interventions among men and women with cancer; and more. Her scholarship has appeared in such journals as Communication Studies, Clinical Gerontologist, Health Communication, Psychology, and Quality of Life Research.
Some of the courses she has taught include Health Communication; Interpersonal Communication; Interpersonal Communication and Illness; Sex, Gender, and Communication; Nonverbal Communication; Applied Organizational Communication; Presentational Speaking; and Communication Theory.