PUB HLTH 1003 - Communication for Health Sciences

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2014

This course will be taught in intensive mode over one week, with online learning activities before and after. The course will be highly interactive and skills-based providing students with the opportunity to assess and improve their communicative competence(oral, written and interpersonal) through self and peer-assessment tasks and by using a variety of media for communication. During the intensive face-to-face week the students will work on a single extended health focus topic and work together in a scenario (a mock clinical practice guidelines committee) that replicates real-world decision-making in health care. Topics will include: basics of interpersonal communication and working in groups; giving & receiving feedback; psychology of communication; assessing communication skills by survey and observation; active listening and building trust and rapport; effect of power differentials in communication; seeking information from experts and consumers; verbal and non-verbal communication; identifying and overcoming communication barriers; group interactions, dynamics and decision making; intersectional collaboration and interdisciplinary communication; foundations of evidence-based practice and policy; developing answerable questions for evidence-based enquiry; developing search strategies (including advanced searching computer skills laboratory); hierarchies of evidence and critical appraisal; summarising and synthesising evidence; developing an evidence-based recommendation; developing dissemination plan; producing health information for different audiences & selecting appropriate media.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 1003
    Course Communication for Health Sciences
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Summer
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive & online
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of undergraduate study
    Assumed Knowledge PUB HLTH 1001, PUB HLTH 1002, ANAT SC 1002, ANAT SC 1003
    Assessment Online self and peer assessment, blog posts & contributions to online discussion, practical reports, communication and group work practical assessments, production of health information in a variery of media
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Rebecca Tooher

    Course Coordinator: Dr Rebecca Tooher
    Phone: +61 8313 1316
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace, Adelaide

    Learning and Teaching Team
    Phone: +61 8313 2128
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace, Adelaide
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Demonstrate an understanding of how the psychology of communication impacts on interpersonal communication between individuals and groups
    2 Assess their own and others communication skills using structured assessment tools and observation of communicative encounters
    3 Demonstrate skills in active listening and in building rapport and trust in interpersonal communications
    4 Demonstrate an awareness of non-verbal communication skills and the effect of physical presence on effective communication
    5 Use effective interpersonal and written communication skills to: give and receive feedback; obtain information from peers, supervisors, consumers/stakeholders; persuade and argue for a course of action or a compromise between conflicting views
    6 Demonstrate an awareness of the factors influencing workplace behaviour and the interaction of people in workplace teams or groups
    7 Produce evidence-based information using a variety of media which is suitable for a general (consumer) audience
    8 Match the information needs of different audiences to the selection of media and the format of information produced
    9 Integrate learning from a number of disciplinary areas with evidence from various sources to deliberate about a health issue of national or international importance
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 7, 8, 9
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 7, 8, 9
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 7, 8, 9
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 1-6
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 2, 5, 7, 8
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-9
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1-9
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 7, 8, 9
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    TEXTBOOK: Baden Eunson, W. Communicating for the 21st Century. Sydney: Wiley & Sons
    Either hard copy or e-book is acceptable. Please also purchase the istudy guide.

    The textbook is available to purchase from: Unibooks, Encompass.

    JOURNAL ARTICLE: Hillier S, Grimmer-Somers K, Merlin T, Middleton P, Salisbury J, Tooher R, Weston A. FORM: An Australian method for formulating and grading recommendations in evidence-based clinical guidelines. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011;11:23

    DOCUMENT: NHMRC: FORM Formulating recommendations in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines

    The journal article and NHMRC FORM document will be available on MyUni

    All learning resources will be provided through My Uni, as will all other course materials such as the course profile, notes for lectures, lecture recordings (where audio-visual equipment is available), tutorial activities, discussion board, quizzes, and assignment information and submission (where appropriate).

    Recommended Resources

    Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine 

    BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine Resources 

    Healthinsite Australian Government Health Information website 

    NHMRC Guidelines portal 

    Online Learning


    University information on computer laboratories and other computing services is available at: 

    The Health Sciences computer laboratory, S118, is situated on the first floor of the Medical School South Building. Twenty-four hour access to computers is provided at the Barr Smith Library.

    Communication for Health Sciences makes lecture notes and other teaching aids available electronically to students, through MyUni.


    MyUni is the primary entry point to online learning at Adelaide University. MyUni provides students and staff with access to course materials, discussion forums, announcements, online and many other features to help manage your study or teaching. You can connect to MyUni on or off campus from an internet connected computer using a Web browser. The URL is: 

    Login to this resource using your Username and Password. Once logged on to MyUni, you will find the information displayed is customised to present only details relevant to you and the online content for courses that you are studying.

    For enquiries about online education services, what’s available and access, contact the Online Education Helpdesk:

    Phone: (08) 8303 3335


    The Helpdesk is available for extended hours during the week or through voicemail.

    In Communication for Health Sciences, you will use MyUni for a number of purposes:-

    Accessing announcements about changes in scheduling, course information etc.

    Accessing lecture notes both in pdf format and, if recording is possible in the allocated lecture theatre, in audio file format.

    Accessing online learning activities including self and peer-assessment tasks, discussion boards, blog posts, wikis

    Accessing online resources

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Online; self-assessment of communicative competence and ICT literacy (specifically in the use of ICT tools for communication and research); online discussion; production of an online blog and peer assessment of other students’ work.

    Intensive week: Communication workshops consisting of short lectures and associated practical activities; Health focus activities including short lectures, discussion and opportunity for individual and group work; Health information activities including short lectures, practicals and opportunity for individual and group work.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Areas must provide a breakdown of the required time commitment for this course. 40 hours of face-to-face contact during the intensive week (5 x 8 hours/day) + 40 hours of online learning activities + 6-7 hours of reading & assessment preparation per week (spread over the month prior to and the month following the intensive week, and the intensive week).

    Learning Activities Summary
    Summer Semester Week 1: January 6 - 10

    Online Activities
    Introductions module - Three truths and a lie - complete activity
    Communications module - What makes good communication? - start working through activities
    Health Focus module - Getting health in focus - read Vaccinations in the news

    Chapter 1 - Communication Today
    Chapter 17 - Public Communications (pp 552 - 563)
    Chapter 9 - Interpersonal Skills I (pp 284 - 290)
    Chapter 11 - Oral Communication (pp 358 - 367)

    Assessment Tasks
    Complete the Communication Skills Audit by Friday January 10

    Summer Semester Week 2: January 13 - 17

    Online Activities
    Introductions module - weldome any new students
    Communications module - continue with activities in What makes good communication?
    Health Focus module - Getting health in focus - read Pertussis Vaccination

    Chapter 8 - Non-verbal communication
    Chapter 10 - Interpersonal Skills II (pp 308 - 330)
    Chapter 18 - Team Communication
    Chapter 19 - Communicating in Meetings (pp 644 - 659)

    Assessment Tasks
    Contribute to the discussion about class strengths and weaknesses by Friday January 17
    Submit Assessment 1: Health Communication Report by Friday January 17

    Time Activity Details
    DAY ONE - Monday January 20
    09.30 - 10.15 Introduction to course
    Rebecca Tooher
    Outline the course structure, expectations, assessments & icebreaker activity.
    10.15 - 10.45 Orientation to the health focus activity and the communication workshops
    Rebecca Tooher
    Results of the communication audit will be presented and discussed. Details of the activities to be undertaken throughout the week will be provided with opportunity for discussion and identification and agtreement about class learning needs.
    10.45 - 11.00  MORNING TEA
    11.00 - 12.00 Communication workshop 1:
    Rebecca Tooher
    Practical Exercise
    Basics of interpersonal communication and working in groups.
    How to give and receive feedback.
    12.00 - 1.00 Health Focus Session 1: Rebecca Tooher
    Practical Exercise
    Developing evidence-based recommendations for practice or policy.
    Developing answerable questions for evidence-based inquiry.
    1.00 - 2.00 LUNCH
    2.00 - 3.30 Health Focus Session 2:
    Rebecca Tooher
    Developing an evidence-based recommendation - introduction of the FORM process and methodology.
    3.30 - 3.35  BREAK
    3.35 - 4.30 Communication workshop 2:
    Rebecca Tooher
    Practical Exercise
    Assessing communication styles by survey and by observation.
    Self and peer assessment of communication styles.
    Time Activity Details
    DAY TWO - Tuesday January 21
    9.30 - 9.45 Re-check Revision and checking understanding from previous day
    9.45 - 10.45 Communication workshop 3:
    Anna Chur-Hansen
    The psychology of communication. Effective interpersonal communication - active listening and building trust and rapport, developing awareness of the effect of power differentials in communicative encounter.
    11.00 - 12.30 Practical Exercise
    Anna Chur-Hansen
    Communication practice session.
    12.30 - 1.30 LUNCH
    1.30 - 2.00 Health Focus Session 3:
    Rebecca Tooher
    Detailed knowledge audit - What do we know and not know about this topic? What do we need to know to make an EB recommendation? How will we close the information gap?
    2.00 - 3.00 Communication Workshop 4:
    Rebecca Tooher
    Interview Skills Assessment
    Part 1: Preparation
    Seeking information from experts and consumers.

    Students work in groups of 3 to devise short interview schedules (maximum 2-3 questions per student) to question experts and stakeholders.
    3.00 - 3.05  BREAK
    3.05 - 4.30 Communication Workshop 5:
    Practical Exercise
    Susie Fraser
    Verbal and non-verbal communication. Physical presence. Considering how posture, gestures, energy and spatial awareness contribute to communication.
    Time Activity Details
    DAY THREE - Wednesday January 22
    9.30 - 9.45 Re-check Revision and checking understanding from previous day.
    9.45 - 10.45 Interview Skills Assessment
    Check interview questions. 
    10.45 - 11.00 MORNING TEA Each group will interview their selected expert or stakeholder - this will be videotaped for later evaluation by the groups. Individual marks will be awarded for tutor assessment of each person's interview skills.
    11.00 - 11.30 Health Focus Session 4:
    Panel Discussion
    A panel of experts and stakeholders will be available to give their views about the health focus topic and potential recommendation.
    11.30 - 1.00 Interview Skills Assessment
    Part 2: Video interviews
    Each group will interview their selected expert or stakeholder. 
    1.00 - 2.00 LUNCH
    2.00 - 4.30 Interview Skills Assessment
    Part 3: Self and peer assessment
    Review of video interviews by each group self and peer assessment.
    Time Activity Details
    DAY FOUR - Thursday January 23
    9.30 - 9.45 Re-check Revision and checking understanding from previous day.
    9.45 - 10.45 Communication Workshop 6:
    Rebecca Tooher

    Guests: Philippa Middleton, Tracy Merlin
    Indentifying and overcoming communication barriers.
    Group interactions, dynamics and decision making.
    Interdiscplinary and intersectoral collaboration (case study: how research/guideline committees work to make decisions).
    10.45 - 11.00 MORNING TEA
    11.00 - 12.30 Group Assessment Task
    Mock guideline committees
    Students will combine into mock guideline committees of 6-8 and begin to work through the structured process of considering the evidence and formulating a recommendation.
    12.30 - 1.30 LUNCH
    1.30 - 3.30 Group Assessment Task Guideline committees will continue deliberation.
    3.30 - 3.35  BREAK
    3.35 - 4.30 Group Assessment Task Guideline committees will continue deliberation.
    Time Activity Details
    DAY FIVE - Friday January 24
    9.30 - 11.30 Group Assessment Task Each group will present their recommendation to the other groups for consideration and discussion.
    11.30 - 11.45 MORNING TEA
    11.45 - 12.45 Group Assessment Task Mock guideline development groups will develop a dissemination plan for the evidence-based recommendation.
    12.45 - 01.30 LUNCH 
    1.30 - 2.00 Orientation to health information activities  
    2.00 - 3.00 Health Information Activity 1
    Rebecca Tooher
    Disseminating health information - identifying audiences and selecting appropriate media for communication. 
    3.00 - 4.00 Course Wrap Up
    Rebecca Tooher
    Online and discussion of final online module and individual assessment task to be completed post intensive, informal feedback and SELTs.
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no specific course requirements
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning outcome(s) being addressed
    Participation Summative 10% 1-6, 9
    Health Communication Report Summative 15% 5, 9
    Interview Skills Assessment Summative 15% 1-5
    Group assessment Summative 30% 1, 3-7, 9
    Health information product Summative 30% 5-9
    Assessment Related Requirements
    There are no special requirements for this course however you are strongly encouraged to attend all components of the intensive week and to be aware that online assessment tasks and activities contributing (in part) to the participation grade will need to be completed TWO WEEKS BEFORE the scheduled intensive week (ie between January 6 and 20).
    Assessment Detail

    Participation 10%
    Student participation will be assessed through a combination of completion of online learning activities (the communication skills audit and health focus poll and contribution to online discussions) and active involvement in all aspects of the week long intensive including formative self and peer assessment tasks built into the learning activities.
    Health communication report (15%)
    You will analyse a variety of communication artefacts (available in the relevant MyUni module) to identify what, if any, strategy was used to communicate about the health topic to the public. Your report (of no more than 400 words) will include a situation analysis (placing the issue in context, identifying stakeholder positions, and factors likely to influence the issue), an outline of the communication objectives, and a summary of the communication strategy adopted including the messages, channels and tools used in the communication strategy. Finally you will write a media release of no more than 100 words which could be used as part of the strategy.

    Interview skills assessment (15%)
    You will work in groups of three to devise short interview schedules (maximum 2-3 questions per student) to question experts and stakeholders regarding the health focus topic under investigation. Following a presentation and panel discussion from the experts and stakeholders, groups will have the opportunity to individually interview their selected expert or stakeholder and the interview will be videotaped for later evaluation (after the panel members have left). The groups will use self- and peer-assessment to critique their interview technique and general communication skills and also to evaluate their success in obtaining useful information. Marks will be awarded individually based on tutor assessment.

    Group assessment (30%)
    You will form into mock guideline development groups of 6-8 students each. You will use a nationally and internationally recognised methodology and process (the NHMRC FORM process) to work systematically through the available evidence regarding the health focus area in order to make a single evidence-based recommendation for practice and/or policy. The FORM process (used by Australian clinical practice guideline development groups producing NHMRC endorsed national evidence-based clinical practice guidelines) will enable groups to consider the evidence and the practical implications of the recommendation they make, as well as integrating the information they have gathered from discussion with experts, stakeholders, patients, consumers and others. Groups will be assessed both on the outcome of the activity (i.e. the evidence-based recommendation they devise) and the process including documentation of the steps taken to reach their conclusions (presentation and synthesis of the evidence-base, assessment of clinical or policy relevance, applicability to the local health care setting and generalisability of the evidence to the population in question). Your group will also devise a dissemination plan for your recommendation. You will need to identify the audience and appropriate mediums for getting your messages across (written, video, interactive etc.) and provide a rationale for your choices.

    Health information product (30%)
    The aim of this task will be to assess your ability to communicate complex health information in a way that is both comprehensible and engaging for members of the public. This task will allow you to demonstrate your mastery of the health focus information you have gathered, your ability to formulate information for the public that is both evidence-informed and accessible and to show your creativity in the development of material in any format in which you judge you have competence. It will provide a showcase for demonstrating your understanding of what is important in communication about health sciences. An assessment rubric will be used to clearly delineate the criteria for comparison of information products which may be written, audiovisual, slideshows, or using other social media. You will be required to justify your choice of media. A Health in Focus website will be created for this course (by the course coordinator) and you will have the chance to include your information product on the website so it can be shared with other students and the wider public.



    Assignments are submitted electronically, unless otherwise advised.

    The appropriate cover page must be attached to each assignment. This page indicates the course, the assignment title, your name and number, and tutor’s name and contains a signed statement that the named student is responsible for the work contained in the assignment.

    These cover pages are available through MyUni.

    If submitting an assignment in hardcopy you must also sign and date the designated class sheet (for this course and this assignment) which will be sited at the front office of the Discipline of Public Health, 178 North Tce (level 7). Do not enclose the assignment in a plastic sheet.

    Assignments must be submitted by the specified time on the due date.

    You should retain a printed copy of the assignment submitted.

    No assignment will be accepted by mail or fax without prior written agreement from the course coordinator.

    Feedback will be provided on the marked assignments.
    It is not possible to resubmit, redeem or substitute work once assignments have been submitted

    All extensions for assignments must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission.

    Extensions will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds.

    Late requests for extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.

    Only the course coordinator, Dr Rebecca Tooher, may grant extensions.

    Documentary supporting evidence such as a medical certificate or a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc) will be required when requesting an extension.

    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late. The procedure is as follows:

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits. In the case of late assignments, marks will then be deducted from the mark awarded, at the rate of 5 percentage points of the total possible per day. This policy will apply to assignments submitted after the period of automatic extension described above.
    eg. If an assignment which is 2 days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10 (5 marks per day for 2 days) to 55%. If that same assignment is 4 days late its mark will be reduced by 20 (5 marks per day for 4 days) to 45% etc.

    The Discipline reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Assignments submitted after the due date may not be graded in time to be returned on the listed return dates.

    Students submitting examinable written work who request (and receive) an extension that takes them beyond the examination period are advised that there is no guarantee that their grades will be processed in time to meet usual University deadlines.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

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