Healthcare Communication

Research Overview

The healthcare communication group investigates health professional-patient interactions, inter and intra-professional communication, and learner medical discourses to inform health professional education. Our research addresses contemporary issues in healthcare and how these impact on communication including the cultural and linguistic diversity of the health workforce and patients, online health information and health literacy, English language proficiency and screening, and safety and quality of care. We approach our research primarily through qualitative and discourse analytical methods. Our multidisciplinary group includes health professional educators, clinicians, junior doctor researchers, and applied linguists.


Ms Susan Philip, PhD student
Mr Daniel McDonald, PhD student with School of Languages and Linguistics
Ms Samantha Tai, PhD student with Department of Audiology
Ms Elizabeth Pryor, PhD student and RA
Dr Margreet Stegeman, Masters Clinical Education student
Ms Catherine Chandler, North Western Health, Masters Clinical Education Student


Department of Medical Education

A/Prof Eleanor Flynn, DME,
A/Prof Clare Delany, DME,
Dr Anna Ryan, DME,
Mr Neville Chiavaroli,

University of Melbourne

Professor David Story, Melbourne Medical School , University of Melbourne
Professor John Hajek, Department of Italian, University of Melbourne,
Dr Ute Knoch, Language Testing Research Centre, University of Melbourne
A/Prof Catherine Elder, Language Testing Research Centre, University of Melbourne
Professor Tim McNamara, Language Testing Research Centre, University of Melbourne
Dr Phyllis Lau, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne

National and International

Professor Elizabeth Manias, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University
Professor Wendy Hu, University of Western Sydney
Dr Susan Barone, Global Learning and Education, Vanderbilt University
Professor Peter Schulz, Institute for Communication and Health, Università della Svizzera italiana
Professor Diana Slade, International Research Centre for Communication in Healthcare (IRCCH),
University of Technology Sydney;
Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong


2014-2016 Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant: Towards improved quality of written patient records: language proficiency standards for nonnative speaking health professionals (3yrs). McNamara, Knoch, Woodward-Kron, Elder, Manias, Flynn, Zhang. $242,380,LP130100171.

2015. Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society. Culturally And Linguistically Diverse Ethics and Research resources (The CALDER Pilot Study). Storey, Knoch, Woodward-Kron, Phan, Parker. $31,554

2013-2014 Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society (IBES). Cultural respect encompassing simulation training (CREST): Being heard about health through broadband. Yau, Woodward-Kron, Elliott, Nicholson. $29,000.

2010-2012 Department of Health, Victoria. Developing Organisational Capacity Funding 2010. Collaboratively addressing the English language requirements of International Medical Graduates. Woodward-Kron, Flynn, Stevens. $176,000, and additional $11,000 for Doctors Speak Up.

2009-2012 with 6 month extension. Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant: Towards improved healthcare communication: Development and validation of language proficiency standards for non-native English speaking health professionals (3yrs). Elder, McNamara, McColl, Manias, Webb, Woodward-Kron, $220,000 LP0991153 ELDER

2009-2011 Australian Learning and Teaching Council competitive grant with the University of Technology, Sydney (Lead). Resources and Methodologies for Learning and Teaching Effective Communication in Emergency Health Care Settings. Slade, Woodward-Kron, Stein-Parbury, McColl et al. $220,000

2009. Knowledge Transfer Grant, University of Melbourne. Doctors Speak Up, (with matching funding from the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria), Woodward-Kron, Flynn, Stevens, $20,000.

2009 Department of Health, Victoria, Developing Organisation Capacity (DOC) Funding. Clinical communication feedback guidelines for International Medical Graduate workplace based assessment, Woodward-Kron, Flynn, Western Hospital. $50,774 .

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

McDonald D, Woodward-Kron R. (2016). Member roles and identities in online support groups: perspectives from corpus and systemic functional linguistics. Discourse and Communication, 1-19, DOI: 10.1177/1750481315615985

Woodward-Kron R, Elder C. (appeared online Nov 2015). Authenticity in an English language screening test for clinicians: A comparative discourse study. Language Testing. Special issue. DOI: 10.1177/0265532215607399

Josephson I, Woodward-Kron R, Delany C, Hiller A. (online September 2015). Evaluative language in physiotherapy practice: how does it contribute to the therapeutic relationship? Social Science and Medicine. 143,

Macqueen, Woodward-Kron, Flynn, Elliott, Reid, Slade. (2015) Resource for teaching Emergency Department healthcare communication. The Clinical Teacher. 12, 1-5. 10.1111/tct.12392

Philip, Manias, Woodward-Kron. (2015) Nursing educator perspectives of overseas qualified nurses’ intercultural clinical communication: barriers, enablers, and engagement strategies. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 24, doi: 10.1111/jocn.12879

Woodward-Kron R, Fraser C, Pill J, Flynn E. (2014). How we developed Doctors Speak Up: An evidence-based language and communication skills open access resource for International Medical Graduates. Medical Teacher, 24, 1-3.

Pryor E, Woodward-Kron R, (2014). International medical graduate doctor to doctor telephone communication: a genre perspective. English for Specific Purposes, 35, 41-53.

Woodward-Kron R, Connor M, Schulz P, Elliott K, (2014). Doctors’ communicating health information in the age of www: A conceptual framework. Academic Medicine, 89(2):318-325 (doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000101)

O’Hagan S, Manias E, Elder C, Pill J, Woodward-Kron R, McNamara T, Webb G, McColl G. (2013) What counts as effective communication in nursing? Evidence from nurse educators’ and clinicians’ feedback on nurse interactions with simulated patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 69(11). doi: 10.1111/jan.12296.

Elder C, Pill J, Woodward-Kron R, McNamara T, Manias E, Webb G, McColl G (2012). Health professionals' views of communication: implications for assessing performance on a health-specific English language test. TESOL Quarterly 6, 2:409 -19..

Woodward-Kron R, Stevens M, Flynn E. The medical educator, the discourse analyst, and the phonetician: A collaborative feedback methodology for clinical communication. Academic Medicine*. 2011; 86(5):565-570

Research Projects

Areas of Excellence

Integrated Critical Medicine

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact
Robyn Woodward-Kron.

Department / Centre

Medical Education