Finding common ground: Meta-synthesis of communication frameworks found in patient communication, supervision and simulation literature

Matthew Jon Links*, Leonie Watterson, Peter Martin, Stephanie O'Regan, Elizabeth Molloy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Effective communication between patients-clinicians, supervisors-learners and facilitators-participants within a simulation is a key priority in health profession education. There is a plethora of frameworks and recommendations to guide communication in each of these contexts, and they represent separate discourses with separate communities of practice and literature. Finding common ground within these frameworks has the potential to minimise cognitive load and maximise efficiency, which presents an opportunity to consolidate messages, strategies and skills throughout a communication curriculum and the possibility of expanding the research agenda regarding communication, feedback and debriefing in productive ways.

Methods: A meta-synthesis of the feedback, debriefing and clinical communication literature was conducted to achieve these objectives. 

Results: Our analysis revealed that the concepts underlying the framework can be usefully categorised as stages, goals, strategies, micro-skills and meta-skills. Guidelines for conversations typically shared a common structure, and strategies aligned with a stage. Core transferrable communication skills (i.e., micro-skills) were identified across various types of conversation, and the major differences between frameworks were related to the way that power was distributed in the conversation and the evolution of conversations along the along the path of redistributing power. As part of the synthesis, an overarching framework "prepare-EMPOWER enact" was developed to capture these shared principles across discourses. 

Conclusions: Adopting frameworks for work-based communication that promote dialogue and empower individuals to contribute may represent an important step towards learner-centred education and person-centred care for patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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