A comparative study of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the communication practices of end-of-life care workers

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Previous research has identified that effective and high-quality communication between patients, families and professionals is a key contributing factor to end-of-life (EOL) care and recovery after bereavement. Increasingly, this communication work is being done by non-clinical staff in places such as homes and community settings. These additional care providers offer important pre- and post-bereavement support that can improve the quality of EOL care as well as promote healthy grieving for families, friends and communities. Despite this contribution, though, little is known about how these non-clinical workers use communication in their daily practices. This paper reports on the analysis of a set of nine in-depth interviews conducted in Hong Kong and in one region of Australia that examined in detail relational aspects of communication that shape interactions between non-clinical workers and service users. Data were collected during the COVID-19 health crisis, when the workers experienced exceptional restrictions on communication. The findings of this study highlight the fundamental importance of both verbal and non-verbal communication to the relationships established between non-clinical workers and service users. Specifically, greater support for the development of communication skills in non-clinical EOL workers will promote improvements in the quality of EOL care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-306
JournalCommunication and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


  • Communication
  • End of life
  • Community services
  • Crisis
  • Hong Kong
  • Australia

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