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Health Communication Research Unit


The Health Communication Research Unit is a multidisciplinary research group concerned with the unique challenges of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic communication in health care contexts. The research group is made up of a number of diverse professions including: doctors, genetic counsellors, speech therapists & audiologists, linguists, psychologists, biomedical researchers. In a society as diverse as South Africa, the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services is a top priority, particularly in light of the illness burden imposed by HIV/AIDS. The research aims to inform policy and provide practical guidelines for training with the health professions, in line with current health care reform in South Africa and the constitutional rights of its citizens. 

More about the HCRU


  • To analyse conversational dynamics of interactions between health personnel and patients
  • To identify facilitators and barriers to effective communication in health care settings
  • To understand the influence of specific site and systemic aspects on communication
  • To gain information about specific communication challenges of different diseases and how they can be addressed
  • To gain an appreciation of the impact of social factors such as poverty and gender
  • To understand the pivotal role of interpreters and counselors in health interactions
  • To encourage facilitation and training for participants
  • To improve the process of informed consent in research trials

Areas of interest

  • Adult and paediatric HIV/AIDS interactions (verbal and non-verbal)
  • ARV pharmacy interactions
  • Informed consent in clinical trials
  • Genetic counselling interactions
  • Interpreting practices
  • Interprofessional communication
  • Efficacy of communication training for HIV counsellors
  • Cultural beliefs and understanding of diseases

Current project are focused on TB, emergency medicine, interprofessional communication, use of drama techniques in diabetes health care, palliative care and genetic counselling interactions.

Annual Report

2015 HCRU Annual Report

2014 HCRU Annual Report





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