Patient-clinician communication during ward rounds

Victoria Walton, Anne Hogden, Janet Long, Julie Johnson, David Greenfield

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction: Hospital rounding processes provide patients with opportunities to interact and plan care with physicians, nurses, and allied health clinicians. This study identified rounding processes, the roles of patients and clinicians, and the influence these have on patient-clinician communication.

Methods: A literature search using the following search terms was undertaken: face-to-face ward rounds in medical units; peer-reviewed journals and government publications written in English; full text articles; and published 2000-14. Articles were analysed for: round classification; clinician and patient involvement; and patient-clinician communication during rounds.

Results: From 39 studies, eight classifications of rounds were identified: ward; multidisciplinary; consultant; teaching; post-take; traditional; review of the ward; and working rounds. Two processes promoted patient involvement, and facilitated patient-clinician communication: multidisciplinary and ward rounds.
Studies of multidisciplinary rounds revealed patient communication only from the perspective of clinicians. Communication between patients and clinicians was inferred from this role description. Patients took active roles by identifying treatment goals and participating in discharge planning. Clinicians encouraged patients to raise concerns with the team during the round.
Studies of ward rounds explored communication from the patients’ perspective. Patients reported difficulty in understanding and interpreting conversations with physicians. The use of medical jargon was reported to be confusing, with concern that physicians talked about patients rather than directly with them. Having a nurse present was important to patients to convey information from physicians into easily understood language.

Discussion: Rounding processes have evolved to meet the needs of clinicians as care providers, educators and teachers. However, only two processes appear to meet the communication needs of patients. Recognising how different processes affect interaction between patients and clinicians prompts development of communication strategies to promote the patient voice during rounds.

Implication: Developing patient-centred communication strategies during rounding processes could improve patient-clinician communication, and empower patient involvement in their healthcare.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventInternational Conference on Communication in Healthcare & Health Literacy Annual Research Conference - Baltimore, United States
Duration: 8 Oct 201711 Nov 2017


ConferenceInternational Conference on Communication in Healthcare & Health Literacy Annual Research Conference
CountryUnited States


  • healthcare communication

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