Healthcare professionals' perceptions of learning communication in the healthcare workplace: An Australian interview study

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Objectives The literature focuses on teaching communication skills in the ‘classroom’, with less focus on how such skills are informally learnt in the healthcare workplace. We grouped healthcare work based on the cure:care continuum to explore communication approaches based on work activities. This study asks: 1) How do healthcare professionals believe they learn communication in the workplace? 2) What are the differences (if any) across the ‘type of work’ as represented by the cure:care continuum?

Design This qualitative study used semi-structured individual interviews.

Setting Community care and acute hospitals in Australia (Victoria and New South Wales).

Participants Twenty qualified healthcare professionals (medicine n=4, nursing n=3, allied health n=13) from various clinical specialties (eg, acute, rehabilitation, surgery, palliative care) participated.

Methods Data were analysed using framework analysis, which involved the development of a thematic coding framework. Findings were mapped to participants’ descriptions of work using the cure:care continuum.

Results Three themes were identified that varied across the cure:care continuum: professional discourse—tying communication approaches to work activities; personal identities—the influence of personal identities on healthcare communication and role modelling—the influence of others in the socially bound context of healthcare work.

Conclusions This study highlights the influence of professional, personal and social factors on the learning of healthcare communication in the workplace. Our study illuminates differences in communication practice related to work activities, as conceptualised by the cure:care continuum. The results call for further examination of the ‘nature’ of work activities and the concomitant influence on developing healthcare communication.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere025445
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2019

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