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How transculturally appropriate is person-centred communication in the care people living with dementia? Perspectives of medical students in the UK and Malaysia.

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young, Dr Ellen Tullo, Dr Alina SchartnerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This international study investigated the views of medical students regarding the applicability of a newly-developed person-centred communication (PCC) model – the Dementia Model of Effective Communication - to the care of people living with dementia (PLWD). PCC is highly influential at policy level, particularly in the global west, but was hitherto under-theorised and its suitability for application beyond these contexts under-explored. Students in the UK and Malaysia (N = 600), following the same undergraduate medical education curriculum, participated in a mixed-method study which combined dementia communication questionnaires with focus groups and individual interviews. Findings indicated a general acceptance across the year groups and locations of the appropriateness and effectiveness of most aspects of PCC, but also highlighted students’ awareness of some of the challenges of applying this approach to real-life, real-time care. Complexities were identified by students across year-groups and locations regarding the acceptability of deception and the value and ethics of PLWD self-efficacy. Differences emerged between participants in the two locations about these two issues, as well as on appropriate terminology to designate PLWD. Findings, while generally supportive of the international applicability and relevance of a PCC model, therefore also point up some of the possible difficulties in its application in different cultural environments. We discuss possible reasons for medical students’ uncertainties where these exist, and the implications of our findings for social psychological approaches to research into communication, particularly those informed by Communication Accommodation Theory and derivatives, and also for medical education and care practice internationally.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young TJ, Tullo ES, Schartner A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: The 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA 2017)

Year of Conference: 2017

Print publication date: 25/05/2017

Acceptance date: 01/02/2017

Date deposited: 28/09/2017

Publisher: ICA