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Health Communication Research Unit (HCRU)

The Health Communication Research Unit (HCRU) is a recognised research entity at Wits University. We are a research group concerned with understanding the unique challenges of cultural and linguistic diversity in health and community care contexts.

Over the past two decades, the HCRU has engaged with clinical and community sites and developed research-based recommendations and communication skills training programmes to improve the quality of care.   

Our research focuses on health care communication, a fledgling field in South Africa that uses methods from the social sciences and linguistics to study communication and care variables in diverse contexts. This work is interdisciplinary, drawing from fields such as applied linguistics, the social sciences, public health and bioethics.

We believe that at the interface of humanities and health lies the solution to many of the problems we face in this country as we tackle its devastating diseases and their social consequences. At the same time, there is a need for curriculum review and transformation of practices and research methods through incorporating innovative, community based, participatory approaches.

The challenges brought about by diversity are not unique to our context, and South Africa has much to offer the rest of the world in this regard. Ironically, in our setting, because systems of care are often underdeveloped or even malfunctional, because the monitoring of such systems may be erratic, and because of profound resource limitations imposed by the needs of a developing country, these challenges have created opportunities for creativity, resourcefulness and adaptation.