The International Centre for Communication in Healthcare: Creating Safer and More Compassionate Healthcare Systems around the World

Diana Slade, Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen, Elizabeth A. Rider, Jack Pun Kwok Hung


Background: The role of communication in healthcare receives increasing attention, yet little research exists that brings together perspectives from interprofessional healthcare researchers and practitioners with linguists and communication specialists. The International Centre for Communication in Healthcare[1] is a response to increasing recognition of the central role of communication and relationships in the delivery of safe, effective and compassionate healthcare.

Objective: To develop a worldwide, multidisciplinary collaborative of internationally recognized healthcare professionals and communication experts working together to translate research into education and practice to improve patient safety, communication and relationships in healthcare.

Methods: The International Collaborative for Communication in Healthcare (a precursor to the Centre) began in 2010, and was founded at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in March 2011. We initiated research collaborations and presented colloquia, workshops and papers at international conferences.

Results: The Centre, co-convened by PolyU and University of Technology, Sydney, was formally launched at PolyU in June 2013 with over 50 members from over 10 countries. The Centre is developing a strategic research agenda for communication in healthcare to improve the quality and safety of patient care, and to mobilize knowledge and expertise gained from research to guide teaching and implementation of communication skills and compassionate care in healthcare education and practice.  In an early initiative in 2011, we created the International Charter for Human Values in Healthcare[2], a collaborative effort involving people, organizations and institutions around the world working together to restore core human values to healthcare. The values of the International Charter inform the Centre’s research, education and practice initiatives.

Conclusions: Effective communication is increasingly recognized as integral to safe, effective, and compassionate healthcare. The International Centre for Communication in Healthcare brings together interdisciplinary researchers, educators and practitioners from diverse disciplines to explore and improve communication and relationships in healthcare settings around the world.


1. The International Centre for Communication in Healthcare.  Hong Kong Polytechnic University and University of Technology, Sydney.

2. The International Charter for Human Values in Healthcare. December 2, 2012.


Communication in Healthcare



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ISSN: 2291-918X, © McGill University Library