Listening styles of undergraduate health students

Ted Brown, Malcolm Boyle, Brett Williams, Andrew Molloy, Lisa McKenna, Claire Palermo, Belinda Lewis, Elizabeth Molloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Concerns about poor communication in the medical and other healthcare professions are common in the empirical literature, with studies showing direct relationships between practitioners' effective listening and patients' satisfaction and less risk of litigation. Furthermore, people do not simply listen or not listen, rather they adopt particular listening styles, making the understanding and investigation of practitioner communication a complex topic. The objective of this study was to identify the listening styles of undergraduate health science students enrolled at one Australian university. A cross-sectional study using a paper-based version of the Listening Styles Profile (LSP-16) was administered to a cohort of students enrolled in undergraduate education programs in eight different health disciplines: emergency health (paramedics), nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nursing/emergency health dual degree, health science and nutrition and dietetics. The LSP-16 is a validated and reliable scale that assesses participants' preferences for each of four distinct listening style constructs. There were 1459 health students eligible for inclusion in the study. Ethics approval was granted. A total of 860 students participated in the study (response rate of 58%), of whom 87.2% (n=750) were female. Across the group, a strong preference was shown for the People Listening Style (LS), which is a listening style characterised by a concern for people's feelings and emotions. Otherwise, an unexpected amount of homogeneity in preferred listening style was found within the group of health science students. Female students reported a slightly stronger preference for the People LS, whereas males reported slightly stronger preferences for the Action LS and Content LS. There were no statistical differences in preference for LS by students' age or year level of undergraduate enrolment. The health professional student participants of this study reported a preference for a range of listening styles, which is appropriate for many healthcare settings. However, a strong preference for the People LS and a moderate preference for the Content LS were evident. This study should be replicated with practicing professionals to establish if the demands of the workplace affect practitioners' listening style(s).

Original languageEnglish
Article number424
Number of pages10
JournalEducation for Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010

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