Review - Physiotherapy students’ conceptualisations of clinical communication: A call to revisit communication in physiotherapy education

Article: Physiotherapy students’ conceptualisations of clinical communication: A call to revisit communication in physiotherapy education
Article status: accepted
Author: Joost van Wijchen
Review date: 1st November 2018
DOI: to be allocated

Review (van Wijchen) – What do students learn about communication? The influence of the physiotherapy curriculum in constructing understandings of communication

General comments:

An interesting article which created curiosity from the start on. Currently an important topic in both the clinical as the educational field. The article emphasizes on contemporary perspectives, opinions, paradigms and also dilemmas occurring in clinical communication and the training of clinical communication. As such the article will be of assistance for existing and developing University physiotherapy programs.

Still I have some suggestions which might be helpful. Hope these suggestions might be of help to enhance the readability of your article.


Clear and good understandable.


The introduction provides a logical structure through the different elements and connecting arguments. The arguments and statements are placed in context and supported by sources. Within the text it seems a prevalence towards a direction of preferred interprofessional communication is tangible, though this stays implicit. It might be useful, to consider of a preferred position is taken and as such to be more open and explicit about your position. This will help the reader, by understanding the lens through which this article is written.

The last paragraph briefly states the purpose and goal. This might be elaborated by placing the exploration more into context as is described above and in the below chapters. Specific it might be of importance to state how the concept of learning is used within this study. Especially cause “learn” is explicitly stated in your title. Also, the connection to the specific course discussed below might be important as a relation between the “learned” and “taught” is drawn. The following text reads as a summary and feels a bit odd in this place. Furthermore, the stated findings, arguments and suggestions are difficult to connect at this point. The context, audit trail and findings are not presented yet, which makes it hard to follow the described conclusion.

Methodology and methods


Helpful to start by stating the paradigm and approach of your methodology, it sets the lens for the reader. Also, an interesting and appropriate methodology in relation with the explored question. As the “Voice Centred Relational Methodology” is not a commonly used methodology, it might be useful for the reader to provide more explanation. Especially the concerning choices you made within this study. This will help readers to follow your progress trail.

Research context:

The described context is mostly stating a specific course and its content. It would be interesting to highlight why this context helps to explore what students learn, or being taught, about communicating in general, in contrast to and to distinguish between what have they gained from this specific course.

In the introduction a sophisticated view on interpersonal communication was given. It might be interesting to describe in an even sophisticated manner what educational approach was used and in which educational paradigm the described course was constructed.

Recruitment and participants:

The recruitment process is clear and clearly described. It might be of interest to provide more background information about the participants and the physiotherapy program they follow.


Within this paragraph the reflection was selected as data input for the study. It might be interesting to elaborate your choice and argumentation for this product. Even so, it might be interesting to elaborate if an ambiguity might exist between an open reflective account of one’s own believes versus a reflective account biased by assessment criteria. Perhaps an appendix might be added with a course description and assessment criteria


The findings are clear and well written. The findings are underpinned with quotes and the line of thought, logic and consistency are easy to follow.


The discussion creates a sophisticated context for the findings. A link between teaching, learning and pedagogy is established. Some interesting questions are raised within the discussion which will help progress and deepening the topic of communication in health and physiotherapy.

I want to thank you very much for sharing this interesting article. Looking forward to seeing more in the future.

One Reply to “Review (van Wijchen) – What do students learn about communication? The influence of the physiotherapy curriculum in constructing understandings of communication”

  1. Thank you for your constructive comments.

    We have made our positioning more explicit within the final paragraph of the Introduction. We recognise that this paragraph did not necessarily fit well within the paper, and have significantly reworked it to better situate the study and to address a number of the comments about reflection and learning. We also appreciate the comment about ‘learning’. This prompted us to revisit the title of the paper and some of the language used within the paper, as we can only make partial claims about what students have learned, based on this study design and dataset.

    We have included more information about the Voice Centred Relational Methodology.

    We have provided more information about the research context, including the physiotherapy programme and participants.
    We acknowledge the limitations of using reflections written for the purposes of summative assessment, and have addressed this in more detail in the Introduction and Discussion.

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