Healthcare Communication

Research Overview

The research of the healthcare communication group 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 communication for safe and effective care. We investigate healthcare communication in a range of different settings, including health professional-patient interactions, health professsional inter and intra-professional communication, and learner medical discourses to inform health professional education. We approach our research primarily through qualitative and discourse analytical methods. Our multidisciplinary group includes health professional educators, clinicians, applied linguists, and communication scientists.

Clinical communication teaching and learning in health professions education is a major focus of our research. Investigations in the health education disciplines of medicine, audiology, nursing, physiotheapy, and speech pathology have explored how students enact relationship-centred care. We have also developed evidence-based communication resources for the emergency department and conducted communication research with internationally qualified health professionals. Some of this work has resulted in online teaching resources that are openly accessible.

A further area of research is communication technologies to overcome language and cultural barriers for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women in maternal care and for recruitment of CALD people into clinical trials.


Let’s talk medical research: Overcoming language and cultural barriers to participation in clinical trials

The We-HELP Study: Western e-Health patient information portal for pregnancy

Communicating with older people across transition points of care.

Medical students’ transition to practice telephone referral skills.

Student Projects:

Intercultural communication of overseas qualified nurses: perspectives and practices. PhD study S. Philip

Audiology student clinical communication. PhD study S. Tai.

Exploration of Patient-Communication in General Dental Practice in Melbourne. PhD study D.Nirmalann

Available Projects:

Please contact the group lead, Robyn Woodward-Kron


Professor Robyn Woodward-Kron

Professor Elizabeth (Liz) Molloy

Associate Professor Eleanor Flynn

Professor Clare Delany, Director of Research Training

Dr Charlotte Denniston

Dr Sandra Petty

Ms Susan Philip, PhD student

Ms Sammi Tai, PhD student

Ms Julia Paxino, MPhil student

Ms Darina Nirmalann, PhD student

Mr Minh Quan Cao, MDRP student


Anaesthesia Perioperative Pain Medicine Unit (APPMU), University of Melbourne

Institute of Communication and Health, University of Lugano, Switzerland

Institute for Communication and Healthcare, Australian National University

Language Testing Research Centre, University of Melbourne

Medical Education, University of Western Sydney

Medical Education, University of Auckland

Research Unit for Multilingualism and Cross-Cultural Communication (RUMACCC), University of Melbourne

School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University

Western Health


Australian Research Council, Linkage and Discovery Project Grants

Australian Learning and Teaching Council

Australian and New Zealand Association of Medical Education (ANZAME)

Department of Health, Victoria. Developing Organisational Capacity Funding

Postgraduate Medical Council Victoria

Ethics and Integrity Development Grant Scheme, University of Melbourne

Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society

Vice-Chancellor's Staff Engagement Project Grants, University of Melbourne

Melbourne Social Equity Institute


2017-2019, ARC Discovery DP170100308

Communicating with older people across transition points of care

Manias E, Bucknall T, Woodward-Kron R, Williams, Hughes C, Jorm C.


Research Opportunities

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

Research Outcomes

Some examples of translational healthcare communication multimedia and learning resources from the healthcare communication research group

  1. Reducing complaints about communication in the Emergency Department A communication skills training intervention for junior doctors. Final Report for Postgraduate Medical Council Victoria.
  2. Woodward-Kron, Bow, Flynn, Pill, Fraser (2012) Doctors Speak Up: Communication and Language for International Medical Graduates (funded by Department Health, Victoria), Web resource. (winner 2014 ELTon British Council award, Digital Innovation category.
  3. Woodward-Kron, Flynn, Macqueen, Slade, Widin, Stein-Parbury, Smith, Scheeres, (2011) Communication for Health in Emergency Contexts (CHEC): Teaching and learning resource for Emergency Department Communication. web resource
  4. Woodward-Kron R, Flynn E, Delany C (2009). Clinical communication and ethical practice for International Medical Graduates in Australia. DVD and CD. University of Melbourne for Postgraduate Council of Victoria

Research Publications

Denniston, C., Molloy, E. K., Ting, C. Y., Lin, Q. F., & Rees, C. E. (2019). Healthcare professionals’ perceptions of learning communication in the healthcare workplace: an Australian interview study. BMJ Open, 9(2), e025445. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025445

Hughson, J. A., Marshall, F., Daly, J. O., Woodward-Kron, R., Hajek, J., & Story, D. (2018). Health professionals’ views on health literacy issues for culturally and linguistically diverse women in maternity care: barriers, enablers and the need for an integrated approach. Australian Health Review42(1), 10-20. doi:10.1071/AH17067

Philip, S., Woodward-Kron, R., Manias, E., & Noronha, M. (2019). Overseas Qualified Nurses’ (OQNs) perspectives and experiences of intraprofessional and nurse-patient communication through a Community of Practice lens. Collegian, 26(1), 86–94. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2018.04.002

Tai, S., Woodward-Kron, R., & Barr, C. (2018). Audiology Students' Perspectives of Enacting and Learning Clinical Communication: A Qualitative Interview and Video Reflexivity Study. American journal of audiology, 27(2), 219-230. doi:10.1044/2018_AJA-17-0097

Woodward-Kron, R., FitzDowse, A., Shahbal, I., & Pryor, E. (2017). Short Report: Using complaints about communication in the emergency department in communication- skills teaching. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 18(3), 60. doi:10.11157/fohpe.v18i3.160

Tai, S., Barr, C., & Woodward-Kron, R. (2017). Competing agendas and other tensions in developing patient-centred communication in audiology education: a qualitative study of educator perspectives. International Journal of Audiology, 57(4), 274–282. doi:10.1080/14992027.2017.1385863

Denniston, C., Molloy, E., Nestel, D., Woodward-Kron, R., & Keating, J. L. (2017). Learning outcomes for communication skills across the health professions: a systematic literature review and qualitative synthesis. BMJ Open, 7(4), e014570. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014570

Hu, W. C. Y., Flynn, E., Mann, R., & Woodward-Kron, R. (2016). From paperwork to parenting: experiences of professional staff in student support. Medical Education, 51(3), 290–301. doi:10.1111/medu.13143

Woodward-Kron, R., Fraser, C., Rashid, H., Au, J., Chua, Y. E., & George, L. (2016). Perspectives of junior doctor intercultural clinical communication: Lessons for medical education. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 17(3), 82. doi:10.11157/fohpe.v17i3.179

Woodward-Kron, R. (2016). International medical graduates and the discursive patterns of patient-centred communication. Language Learning in Higher Education, 6(1). doi:10.1515/cercles-2016-0012

Hughson, J., Woodward-Kron, R., Parker, A., Hajek, J., Bresin, A., Knoch, U., … Story, D. (2016). A review of approaches to improve participation of culturally and linguistically diverse populations in clinical trials. Trials, 17(1). doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1384-3

Woodward-Kron, R., Hughson, J., Parker, A., Bresin, A., Hajek, J., Knoch, U., … Story, D. (2016). Culturally and linguistically diverse populations in medical research: perceptions and experiences of older Italians, their families, ethics administrators and researchers. Journal of Public Health Research, 5(1). doi:10.4081/jphr.2016.667

Lau, P. M., Woodward-Kron, R., Livesay, K., Elliott, K., & Nicholson, P. (2016). Cultural respect encompassing simulation training: being heard about health through broadband. Journal of Public Health Research, 5(1). doi:10.4081/jphr.2016.657

Woodward-Kron, R. (2016). Putting population and global health on the agenda of health professionals. Journal of Public Health Research, 5(1). doi:10.4081/jphr.2016.709

McDonald, D., & Woodward-Kron, R. (2016). Member roles and identities in online support groups: Perspectives from corpus and systemic functional linguistics. Discourse & Communication, 10(2), 157–175. doi:10.1177/1750481315615985

Woodward-Kron, R., Elder, C. (2016). Authenticity in an English language screening test for clinicians: A comparative discourse study. Language Testing, 33(2), 251-270. doi:10.1177/0265532215607399

Flynn, E., Woodward-Kron, R., & Hu, W. (2015). Training for staff who support students. The Clinical Teacher, 13(1), 63–68. doi:10.1111/tct.12392