Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

BMJ Open


BMJ Publishing Group


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2021


D'Souza, S., Godecke, E., Ciccone, N., Hersh, D., Janssen, H., & Armstrong, E. (2021). Hospital staff, volunteers’ and patients’ perceptions of barriers and facilitators to communication following stroke in an acute and a rehabilitation private hospital ward: A qualitative description study. Neurology, 11(5), article e043897.



To explore barriers and facilitators to patient communication in an acute and rehabilitation ward setting from the perspectives of hospital staff, volunteers and patients following stroke.


A qualitative descriptive study as part of a larger study which aimed to develop and test a Communication Enhanced Environment model in an acute and a rehabilitation ward.


A metropolitan Australian private hospital.


Focus groups with acute and rehabilitation doctors, nurses, allied health staff and volunteers (n=51), and interviews with patients following stroke (n=7), including three with aphasia, were conducted.


The key themes related to barriers and facilitators to communication, contained subcategories related to hospital, staff and patient factors. Hospital-related barriers to communication were private rooms, mixed wards, the physical hospital environment, hospital policies, the power imbalance between staff and patients, and task-specific communication. Staff-related barriers to communication were staff perception of time pressures, underutilisation of available resources, staff individual factors such as personality, role perception and lack of knowledge and skills regarding communication strategies. The patient-related barrier to communication involved patients’ functional and medical status. Hospital-related facilitators to communication were shared rooms/co-location of patients, visitors and volunteers. Staff-related facilitators to communication were utilisation of resources, speech pathology support, staff knowledge and utilisation of communication strategies, and individual staff factors such as personality. No patient-related facilitators to communication were reported by staff, volunteers or patients.


Barriers and facilitators to communication appeared to interconnect with potential to influence one another. This suggests communication access may vary between patients within the same setting. Practical changes may promote communication opportunities for patients in hospital early after stroke such as access to areas for patient co-location as well as areas for privacy, encouraging visitors, enhancing patient autonomy, and providing communication-trained health staff and volunteers.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License