Communication - the most important skill?


  • Develop a better understanding of Communication and how to assess performance through debriefing.

  • Analyse your own Communication practice and evaluate other's practice.

Estimated time to complete: 90 minutes

Throughout these bite-sized lessons we cannot hope to cover all of the content needed in the depth desired by all readers. The intention is to cover some core principles and flag key papers which can be used as springboards for your personal development.

Next steps:

Well, that depends on who you ask and the context which you're looking at it from.

Key points to look for when debriefing include:

  • Was communication appropriate between all participants, i.e. the leader, team & patient?

  • Was there evidence of 'jargon'?

  • Was there appreciation of a common understanding of all concepts & phrases used?

  • Were participants addressed by name, or role, if at all?

  • How did any phone-calls / handovers go?

  • Was there appropriate use of an SBAR?

  • Was there evidence of closed-loop communication?

The presentation above by Walter Eppich can be found at this link covering how we can use conversations in healthcare as opportunities to promote learning.

further learning

Consider reading this article for an in depth breakdown of closed-loop communication in healthcare.

A good review in Academic Medicine around learning conversations is available here.

Alternatively, another great read is this article discussing various components of teamwork in depth.

A systematic review of communication in healthcare simulations is available from BMJ STEL here.

In addition to verbal communication, non-verbal communication is also important to consider - a review can be found at this link.

Improving Clinical Communication and Patient Safety: Clinician-Recommended Solutions - - Effective Communication Skills in Leadership -

A review of "The Sterile Cockpit" is available here.

A Healthcare Communication Assessment Tool exists and can be found here.

See one paper below and its connected articles for a wider review of the literature:

Continue the discussion below