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Intention, interpretation, perception, communication

Introduction & Background

Clinical communication training requires participants to reflect on their own communication and peer feedback to improve communication between doctors and patients (and any other participants). Participants, however, are from diverse personal and socio-cultural contexts, which can confuse intended communication and lead to miscommunication.  As a live dynamic process, shared reflection constructively challenges how students understand and engage with ambiguity and uncertainty. Identifying and understanding personal bias and socio-cultural conditioning in a co-creative supportive context will help students to reflect more holistically and empathise with others, enabling them to give and receive more effective constructive feedback, while encouraging self-awareness and self-directed learning.


Taking place in the art gallery, this project invited participants to engage in the process of shared reflection as a way of understanding how we and others make meaning. Using artworks as a focus for attention and enquiry, participants explored how artists use visual language to convey meaning, recognising that there are many interpretations, no ‘right answers’, and that meaning is negotiated over time. Developing analytical thinking and reflective skills, the artist-educator guided the enquiry process, employing interactive activities to engage participants with art processes and skills to encourage participants to make their own interpretations through engaging with experience. This experience was then contextualised and transformed into reflection of verbal interactions in clinical communication with the help of the communication lecturer.

Intervention & evaluation

The educational intervention consisted of three half-day workshops, combining gallery reflection and communication reflection, facilitated by an artist-educator and a communication lecturer.

Evaluation has been through:

1) a focus group with students

2) self-evaluation questionnaires to elicit/document participants’ experiences

3) video-stimulated reflection of the artist and educationist, which captured the process of the collaborative working and their perspectives of students learning.

All the training sessions were video-recorded for the third activity. 

This project was a collaboration between Dr Shuangyu Li, GKT School of Medical Education, King's College London and Dr Manjinder Sidhu, Tate Modern/Britain as part of the Arts-Based Learning in Medical Education Scheme.  It was supported by the university's Culture team.

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