Communication in Health

July 22, 2019

General Information
Duration 1 semester
Level Year 1, Semester 1
Unit Weighting Unit Credit Points: 10 credit points
Total Course Credit Points: 320 credit points
Student Workload Number of timetabled hours per week: 4
Number of personal study hours per week: 6
Total workload hours per week: 10
Prerequisites None
Academic Details
Description This unit introduces students to health communication and addresses the issues, approaches and techniques in communicating effectively with the general public, patients, and peers as a qualified health professional. The unit also raises students’ awareness about the strengths and limitation of Chinese medicine and when to appropriately refer a patient to a peer or another medical and health professional.
The unit explores key issues in interpersonal interactions including the dynamics of the client/practitioner relationship, ethical issues, professionalism and confidentiality. Other key issues include working in groups and teams with an open-minded sense of inquiry in the pursuit of excellence relating to both professional and personal development; and developing an appreciation of the multi-cultural and multi-racial nature of the Australian community and how this may affect the practice of Chinese medicine. Special focus is placed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness and sensitivity in the practice of Chinese medicine in the Australian context.
To prepare students for their roles as professional TCM practitioners, this unit also introduces techniques in communication and counselling to more effectively manage a CM consultation in clinical practice, be that in their practice of acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine with a view to improving both the quality of life of patients and the wellbeing of the community and the environment.
 Learning outcomes On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:
a. Communicate clearly, effectively, empathetically and appropriately with patients and/or clients in a clinical consultation, in compliance with the NSQHS Standards’ Partnering with Consumers Standard.
b. Apply a range of strategies to support and promote effective communication with patients, clients, carers or family members from diverse backgrounds (e.g. culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples).
c. Demonstrate accepted protocols and procedures in the provision of relevant and timely written communication when collaborating about patients and/or clients with other Chinese medicine and health practitioners.
d. Critically reflect on social and cultural determinants of health, and on the impact of one’s own culture, influences, perceptions and interactions when communicating with others.
e. Demonstrate academic integrity in academic writing including correct referencing and use of citations.
Assessment Post-Class Online Activities (15%)
Essay (30%)
Practical Test: Patient Consultation (Role Play) (25%)
Final Examination (30%)
Prescribed Textbooks/Readings * The prescribed and recommended readings are subject to annual review.

Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. (n.d.). AIPC’s Counsellor Skills Series: Report 1 Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills. Retrieved from

Benbassat, J., Baumal, R. (2004). What is empathy, and how can it be promoted during clinical clerkship? Acad Med, 79, 832-839.

Chopik, W. J., & O’Brien, E. (2017). Happy you, healthy me? Having a happy partner is independently associated with better health in oneself. Health Psychology, 36(1), 21–30.

Fallowfield, L., Jenkins, V. (2004). Communicating sad, bad and difficult news in medicine. Lancet, 363, 312-319.

Higgs, J., McAllister, L, & Rosenthal, J. (2012). Learning to do academic writing. In J. Higgs (Eds.), Communicating in the Health Sciences (pp. 54-66). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Kurtz, S., Silverman, J., Benson, J, & Draper, J. (2003). Marrying Content and Process in Clinical Method Teaching: Enhancing the Calgary-Cambridge Guides. Academic Medicine, 78(8), 802-809.

Lowry, M. (2005). Self-awareness: Is it crucial to clinical practice? AJN, 105(11), 72CCC-72DDD.

Maquire, P. & Pitceathly, C. (2002) Key communication skills and how to acquire them. BMJ, 325, 697-700.

Portsmouth, L., Coyle, J., & Trede, F. (2012). Working as a member of a health team. In J. Higgs (Eds.), Communicating in the Health Sciences (pp. 271-279). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Sefton, A., Hay, I., & Bowles, W. (2012). Academic Integrity and honesty. In J. Higgs (Eds.), Communicating in the Health Sciences (pp. 34-45). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Tasker, D., Croker, A., McAllister, L., & Street, A. (2012). Talking with colleagues, patients, clients and carers. In J. Higgs (Eds.), Communicating in the Health Sciences (pp. 174-186). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Taylor, Shelley E (2015). Health Psychology (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education. Chapter 1 – pages 1-11.

Thackrah, R. D., & Thompson, S. C. (2013). Refining the concept of cultural competence: building on decades of progress. MJA, 1, 35-38.

Travaline, J. M., Ruchinskas, R., & D’Alonzo, G. E., Jr. (2005). Patient-physician communication: Why and how. J Am Osteopath Assoc, 105(1), 13-18.

Trede, F., & Hill, B. (2012). Intercultural communication. In J. Higgs (Eds.), Communicating in the Health Sciences (pp. 195-205). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Trede, F., & Smith, M. (2012). Being assertive in teams and workplaces. In J. Higgs (Eds.), Communicating in the Health Sciences (pp. 290-298). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Zheng, Z., Paterson, C., & Yap, K. (2013). Does Chinese medicine consultation share features and effects of Cognitive–Behavioural Therapy? Using traditional acupuncture as an example. Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, 8 (2), 6-15.