Lancaster University linguists will help improve global healthcare communication

Doctor talking to patient

Lancaster University linguists are part of an initiative to build an international research and training hub in healthcare communication aimed at improving patient safety and practice quality globally.

The ANU Institute for Communication in Health Care announced today they are joining with internationally renowned research centres across the world to establish the International Consortium for Communication in Health Care (IC4CH).

The consortium’s mission is to translate cutting-edge communication research into best practice and training for safe and compassionate health care.

Ineffective communication has been identified as a major cause of critical incidents in hospitals in the UK and internationally.

The consequences of patients suffering from an avoidable critical incident caused by communication failures are significant, including longer hospital stays, poor outcomes and increased treatment costs.

Critical incidents can occur when there are misunderstandings between patients and clinicians, for example, with diagnosis or treatment options or illegible patient records, or because of omissions and failures to clarify ambiguities and confusions in the handover process.

The new hub will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining the expertise of linguists and communication specialists with the insider’s perspective of healthcare academics and clinicians, to shed light on this complex phenomenon.

Professor Diana Slade, Director of the ANU ICH, said: “The establishment of this consortium is an exciting development for healthcare communication research globally.

“I am delighted to welcome Lancaster University, UCL, Nanyang Technology University, Singapore, Hong Kong University and Queensland University of Technology as consortium members.

“I believe that working together across borders and disciplines will give us the unity and strength to realise our collective vision of creating a future in which healthcare is safe, compassionate, sensitive and supportive for patients, carers and clinicians.”

Lancaster University’s Professor Elena Semino, Director of the Economic and Social Research Council Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science and member of the Department of Linguistics and English Language, is excited about the opportunities membership will bring.

“Joining the consortium is an excellent opportunity for me and my research centre to benefit from and contribute to international initiatives and challenges in communication in health care,” says Professor Semino.

“We will contribute Lancaster’s cutting-edge expertise in corpus linguistics and discourse analysis to collaborative projects in the most pressing areas of healthcare communication, such as chronic pain diagnosis and vaccination programmes.’

The consortium’s research, education and practice initiatives are underpinned by the International Charter for Human Values in Healthcare.

Dr. Elizabeth Rider, Harvard Medical School and Chair of the ICH External Advisory Committee, said: “IC4CH is distinctive as it brings together world class linguists with academic and practicing healthcare professionals, educators and communication experts to share and collaborate on healthcare communication research, education and training, and health policy’.

For further information about the consortium, please visit the web page, follow Twitter @IC4CH or contact Professor Diana Slade at

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