Communication in Health

General Information
Duration 1 semester (14 teaching weeks)
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/ Corequisites None
Academic Details
Description This unit of study introduces students to issues, approaches and techniques relating to communicating with the general public, patients and peers as a health professional and the strengths and limitation of Chinese medicine and the necessity to refer to peers, or other medical and health professionals, when appropriate.

The unit will examine issues in interpersonal interactions including the client/practitioner relationship, ethical issues, professionalism and confidentiality, and the ability to work in groups and teams with an open-minded sense of inquiry in the pursuit of excellence relating to both professional and personal development. This unit enables students to appreciate the multi-cultural and multi-racial nature of the Australian community and how this may affect the practice of Chinese medicine. Special focus will be placed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and cultural safety in the practice of Chinese medicine in Australian. This study aims to prepare students to function in their role as TCM practitioners and addresses communication related issues that may be triggered in the course of a CM consultation, and how to adapt health psychology knowledge and method, health counseling techniques to the CM framework of clinical practice. The desire to achieve excellence in the practice of acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine and to contribute to improving both the quality of life of patients and the wellbeing of the community and the environment will be a key feature in the teaching and learning of this unit.

 Learning outcomes Upon completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly, effectively, empathetically and appropriately with the patient/client in the reception and in a clinical consultation.
  2. Identify the likely barriers to communicating with patients/clients and/or family/carers, especially with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and discuss the strategies to avoid or overcome these barriers, including the engagement of third parties.
  3. Describe the communication skills required to collaborate with Chinese medicine and other health practitioners in the interests of the patient/client, and demonstrate the ability to follow the accepted protocols and procedures to provide relevant and timely written communication.
  4. Examine and reflect on how one’s own culture, influences, perceptions and interactions with others from different cultures.
  5. Define the concept of academic integrity, and demonstrate the ability to apply academic integrity in academic writing, including the appropriate use of referencing and citations to incorporate research and to avoid plagiarism.
Unit requirement To successfully complete the unit, students must: attend 80% of all the lectures and tutorial classes; attempt all assessment tasks including summative and formative assessments and achieve at least 50% of the total marks; and achieve a mark of at least 40% in the final examination.
Assessment Assessment 1: Essay (35%)

Assessment 2: Practical Test (Role Play) (30%)

Assessment 3: Final Examination (35%)

Prescribed text * 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.

Recommended readings Adams, C. H., & Jones, P. D. (2011). Therapeutic communication for health professionals (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Arnold, E., & Boggs, K. U. (2011). Interpersonal relationships: Professional communication skills for nurses (6th ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders.

Corey, G. (2005). Theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy (7th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning.

Davis, C. M. (2011). Patient practitioner interaction: An experiential manual for developing the art of health care (5th ed.). Thorofare, NJ: SLACK.

DeVito, J. A. (2011). Interpersonal messages: Communication and relationship skills (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn& Bacon.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). America Psychiatric Association.

Higgs, J. (2012). Communicating in the health sciences (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.

Theobald, T. (2011). Develop your presentation skills. London: Kogan Page.


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