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Communication, person-centeredness and the care of people with dementia: Perspectives of medical students in the UK and Malaysia.

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young, Dr Alina SchartnerORCiD, Poongothai Shanmugaraja, Dr Gim Ong, Dr Michaela Goodson



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


Abstract Person-centred communication (PCC) is strongly advocated in health policy and medical education curricula for the care of people living with dementia (PWD) in the global ‘west’. It is, however, under-theorised, and the extent to which it is applicable to care in different contexts underexplored. This international study was supported by funding from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. It investigated the views of medical students regarding the applicability of a new PCC model – the Dementia Model of Effective Communication - to the care of PWD, and so to provide internationally-relevant information comparing the views of undergraduates in different year groups, and in two national locations, and so test aspects of PCC theory. The study triangulated quantitative survey data with qualitative interview data. Students in the UK and Malaysia (N = 618), completed a Dementia Communication Questionnaire: subgroups of students took part in focus groups (N = 39) or in individual interviews (N = 10) in each location to discuss issues arising. Findings indicated a general acceptance, across the year groups and locations, of the appropriateness and effectiveness of most aspects of PCC, but also highlighted awareness of some of the challenges of applying this approach to real-life care. Complexities were identified by students regarding the acceptability of deception and the value and ethics of speaking to family members first. Differences emerged between participants in the two locations about these two issues, as well as on appropriate terminology to designate PWD. While generally supportive of the applicability and relevance of a PCC model, findings also indicate difficulties of its application in different cultural environments. I detail possible reasons for medical students’ uncertainties, and implications of these findings for medical education and care practice internationally, and for applied linguistics theory related to language and communication in the care of PWD.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young TJ, Tullo AS, Schartner A, Smith D, Shanmugaraja P, Ong G, Goodson ML

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: American Association for Applied Linguistics Conference

Year of Conference: 2018

Print publication date: 26/03/2018

Acceptance date: 25/02/2018

Date deposited: 27/04/2018

Publisher: American Association for Applied Linguistics