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

Communication is one of the core competency in most health professions education therefore this article is relevant.



  • The literature around interpersonal / transactional communication is extensively covered however it would be useful to explore or reference clinical communication as this widely covered in other discipline. Defining it , highlighting differences ( if there is) with transactional communication taught in this particular curriculum
  • Rephrasing of first line/sentence of last paragraph (page 420)
  • Inclusion of background of content of communication, teaching strategies & assessment would assist to understand and follow purpose of study (more detail than in research context)


  • Include brief description of social- constructionist
  • Research Context: – detail of how communication is taught from first to final year


  • It appears that the purpose or requirement of the assignments included a wide range of elements other than communication. This definitely impacts on the analysis of the data, the quality of the data as well as the relevancy of using this assignments as data-source.
  • There appears to be disjuncture between the research question/aim & the data-source
  • In addition, the learning outcome of the communication course is not aligned with the requirements of the assignment


  • It would be valuable to explore the students’ clinical experience/exposure to patients or clients and how this impacts or affect their perception of communication and role of physiotherapist


  • The link between the findings and discussions is not clear
  • It is challenging to follow clear issues highlighted in findings
  • It is long, new issues and literature included without linking to introduction or findings.

General comments

  • I would suggest that fewer issues to be included, ‘streamline’ issues
  • Focus only on communication and communication strategies, exclude national codes of rights, complexities of practices, etc





One thought on “Review (Maart) – 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 clarified the terminology we use, recognising that we used ‘interpersonal communication’ and ‘clinical communication’ interchangeably. This makes the differences between ‘transactional’ and ‘interactional’ (or patient-centred’) approaches clearer.

    We have significantly revised the final paragraph of the Introduction.

    We have included more information about the research context and communication teaching and assessment within the Methods section.

    We have added a brief description of social constructionism.

    We acknowledge that the assignment covered a number of topics, and that students were reflecting for the purposes of summative assessment which clearly impacts on the data presented. While this may be a limitation of the study, we contend that the data still provides significant insight into their conceptualisations of communication and highlights a number of issues that educators need to consider. The learning outcome is aligned with the assignment criteria.

    While it would be interesting to explore the student’s exposure to patients and how this relates to their perceptions of communication, this was outside the scope of this study.

    We acknowledge that the Discussion is lengthy and discusses a number of issues related to communication teaching that have been raised by the Findings of this research. We have worked to situate findings within existing theory and evidence, and to discuss implications for communication teaching, as per the remit for the special edition of this journal.

    The paper only discusses ‘national codes of rights, complexities of practice’ when providing a short summary of the paper the students were undertaking and the assignment contents. We believe it is appropriate to keep these sentences in the paper.

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