About us

IRCAHC is committed to delivering global healthcare communication research under the challenges of ageing populations and emerging diseases, especially in the areas of health policy, organisational structures and community-based care in the community and hospital settings in the Asia Pacific region.


To achieve this goal, IRCAHC focuses on the social psychology of language in healthcare communication, the role of the organisations, groups and individuals in negotiating patient care and the links between community and hospital care.

This focus is reflected in the key areas of work currently pursued by IRCAHC, which are:

  1. Community health and ageing populations with a particular focus on mHealth and health literacy
  2. Using Discusis to visualise Cantonese and English conversations in HealthCare
  3. Patient safety and adverse events prevention
  4. Lung cancer stigma
  5. Community disruption, trauma, and recovery
  6. The role of culture in influencing patient decision-making preferences and the communication strategies patients want health providers to use to enact those preferences

The contributions of the work of IRCAHC are aiming to impact the development of

  1. healthcare policy
  2. healthcare education
  3. best practice guidelines for healthcare professionals
  4. patient safety and quality of care
  5. the well-being of healthcare professionals
  6. the deepened interdisciplinary collaborations 

To achieve these goals, IRCAHC will promote international conferences, symposia and workshops, create a shared database of members’ research interests, highlight members’ new publications and develop online courses around issues such as interprofessional health collaboration, professional development workshops on communication, leadership and resilience, etc. The Centre will source competitive funding and encourage inter-university research collaborations and exchanges.




The Hong Kong Polytechnic University first established a health communication research centre in 2013. This was a cross-faculty and cross-university collaboration between The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and a strategic partnership with Curtin University, Western Australia. Following the initial focus on hospital-based research, PolyU decided to expand the scope of the centre’s work and in 2017 Professor Watson was appointed Director of the renamed International Research Centre for the Advancement of Health Communication (IRCAHC).

IRCAHC was established with a broader focus of work and is firmly embedded within the local health care context as well as the international academic community. Since 2017 IRCAHC has developed and delivered a range of education and training events that have attracted researchers and clinicians. This networking is important because as health care and population health needs become more complex, health communication research must be expanded to look in detail at what happens inside and outside hospital sites.

Since 2017 the work of IRCAHC has featured a significant expansion of theoretical approaches and research domains for studying health communication in Asia. This has included a focus on the social psychology of language in health communication, the role of organisations, groups and individuals in negotiating patient care as well as the links between community and hospital care. This shift in focus towards health policy, organizational structures and community-based care has already contributed insights into contemporary health challenges and issues in the community and hospital settings across the Asia Pacific Region. 

Management Committee

Director

Prof. Bernadette Watson
Associate Head and Professor
Department of English
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong
bernadette.watson@polyu.edu.hk


Prof. Louise Cummings
Professor
Department of English
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong

louise.cummings@polyu.edu.hk

Research interests:

Professor Cummings studies public health reasoning at both individual and organizational levels. She is a health professional (speech and language therapist) as well as an academic linguist.


Dr Andy S.K. Cheng
Associate Professor (MOT Program Leader)
Department of Rehabilitation Science
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong

andy.cheng@polyu.edu.hk

Research interests:

  • Hand and occupational rehabilitation
  • Driver assessment and rehabilitation
  • Ergonomics and work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • Cancer survivorship

Dr Dennis Tay
Associate Professor
Department of English
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong

dennis.tay@polyu.edu.hk

Research interests:

  • Cognitive linguistics
  • Healthcare communication
  • The language of psychotherapy
  • Data analytics and statistical modeling of discourse

Dr Margo Turnbull
Research Assistant Professor
Department of English
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong
 
margo.turnbull@polyu.edu.hk

Research interests:

  • Foucault
  • Critical discourse analysis
  • Identity
  • Health
  • Communication
  • Post-structural research methodologies and methods

Distinguished members

Professor Shouzhen Cheng

Professor Shouzhen Cheng is the Director of Nursing Department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University. Her major fields of expertise are respiratory and critical care, nursing management, nursing education and nursing research.

Mrs. Cheng led her team successfully applied for the first “National Key Clinical Specialty” in 2010, solving more than 100, 000 difficult and complex nursing tasks. Cheng and her team have formulated 16 critical nursing standard operating procedures, 14 guidelines and regulations. In 2017, Cheng established China’s first “College of Clinical Specialty Nursing”, mentoring over 600 nurse specialists and 18,800 specialty nurses. She edits over 10 books and published more than 100 papers. The “Research on ICU Professional Nurse’s Core Competence and Training Program” won the first “Chinese Nursing Science & Technology Award”. As the outstanding recipient, she was well received by Premier Li Keqiang.

Throughout her over 40 years of engagement in the nursing field, Mrs. Cheng has achieved outstanding accomplishments in scientific research, professional team development and nursing management. She is now carrying titles of:

a. Chairman of Respiratory Nursing Committee of Chinese Nursing Association
b. President of Guangdong Nursing Association
c. Chairman of Critical Care Committee of Guangdong Nursing Association
d. Director of Guangdong Nursing Quality Control Center
e. Associate Editor of the Chinese Journal of Nursing

In 2012, Cheng was elected as the Vice President of the 26th Chinese Nursing Association. As a member of the Chinese nursing delegation, she attended the 2013 Melbourne International Nurse’s Conference to facilitate the landmark day of the Chinese Nursing Association formally joining the International Council of Nurses. In 2016, she was invited to be the panel of experts including the Presidents from Nursing Association of China, Japan and Korea, and the Chairman of ICN to discuss the public health, witnessing the signing of the memorandum of cooperation nursing among BRICS countries. In 2018, she and her team undertook a foreign project from Guangdong Province “Pacific Island Medical specialized personal Training Program”, training nurses from Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Professor Cindy Gallois

Professor Cindy Gallois is an emeritus professor of psychology and communication at the University of Queensland, where she began in 1979.  She was Executive Dean and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (2003-2009).  She was the founding Director of the Centre for Social Research in Communication, and President of the UQ Academic Board (1998-2000).  Cindy’s research focuses on intergroup language and communication, with a special interest in health, chronic illness, and disability.  She has published more than 200 articles, chapters, and books, and has supervised 40+ PhD graduates in psychology, health, communication, and related disciplines.  With colleagues, she has won 21 external competitive grants since 2000 to fund her research (9 since 2010), including 3 ARC Discovery, 9 ARC Linkage, and 7 NHMRC and related health grants.  Cindy has been a member of the ARC College of Experts (2001-2003, 2008), as well as a member of NHMRC panels on HIV/AIDS, Avian influenza, and other special topics.  Since 2018, she has participated in grant mentoring for HKPolyU.

Dr David G. Hewett

David G. Hewett is an Associate Professor at The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine, and gastroenterologist at Brisbane Colonoscopy in Brisbane, Australia.

After graduating with honours from the University of Queensland, he undertook clinical and research training at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, before completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Douglas Rex at Indiana University, USA where he developed advanced skills in the technical performance of colonoscopy.

Associate Professor Hewett’s clinical interests include colorectal cancer screening and the technical performance of colonoscopy, including detection, advanced imaging and resection, and endoscopic training. His research focuses on improving the effectiveness of colonoscopy, and he has published widely on new colonoscopic techniques, technologies and methods of training. He has parallel interests in health systems research and medical education, including quality of patient care, intergroup relations, and procedural skills training.

A/Prof Hewett is active internationally in colorectal cancer policy and training initiatives. He is a member of advisory boards for the Australian National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the Asian Novel Bio-Imaging and Intervention Group, and editorial boards for the journal Endoscopy, and the Journal of the Anus, Rectum and Colon. He has served as Director of Training for the Gastroenterological Society of Australia and as a member of the Specialist Training Committee in gastroenterology with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Professor Srikant Sarangi

Professor Srikant Kumar Sarangi is a Professor in Humanities and Medicine and Director of the Danish Institute of Humanities and Medicine at Aalborg University in Denmark. He was appointed as the Professor in Language and Communication and Director of the Health Communication Research Centre at Cardiff University in the UK where he is now Honorary Professor.

In 2012, Prof. Sarangi was awarded the title of ‘Fellow’ by the Academy of Social Sciences, UK. In 2015, he was elected as a ‘Foreign Member’ of The Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters (Societas Scientiarum Fennica). He is the editor of TEXT & TALK: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse and Communication Studies as well as founding editor of both Communication & Medicine and Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice. Moreover,  Prof. Sarangi is the author or editor of ten books and numerous articles in international journals.  He serves as an editorial board member for other journals and book series[es], and as a consulting advisor at many national and international levels.

Prof. Sarangi’s research interests include institutional and professional discourse from an applied linguistics perspective (e.g., health, social welfare, bureaucracy, education etc.); communication in genetic counselling, HIV/AIDS, telemedicine, primary care and palliative care; communication ethics; teaching and assessment of consulting and communication skills; language and identity in public life; intercultural pragmatics.

Professor Howard Giles

Professor Howard Giles (Ph.D., D.Sc.) is Distinguished Research Professor in Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara (adjunct in Social Psychology & Linguistics), & Director of Volunteers in Policing for the Santa Barbara Police Department, USA). Editor of both the Handbook of Intergroup Communication (2012) and the 2-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Intergroup Communication (2018), his prodigious interests and publications mainly revolve around many areas and settings of intergroup communication, including the subjective health of different age groups (e.g., their successful aging as well as abuse and aggression directed toward them); police officers’ wellness; and work place violence in the health professions). Giles is Past President both of the International Communication Association (ICA, 1998-99) and the International Association of Language & Social Psychology (200-02). He is the recipient of numerous cross-disciplinary awards and association Fellowships, including being the inaugural recipient of ICA’s Career Productivity Award (2000), and is Founding and Current Editor of two journals: the Journal of Language & Social Psychology (1980-) & the Journal of Asian Pacific Communication (1990-), and was elected Editor of the ICA flagship journal, Human Communication Research (1995-98).

Dr. Eric Hang-Kwong So

Dr. Eric Hang-Kwong So is a consultant anesthesiologist in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) under Hospital Authority (HA). He was appointed as the Associate Director of Multi-disciplinary Simulation and Skills Centre (MDSSC) in 2011 to oversee the overall Centre’s operation and accomplish its vision and mission. He has given valuable inputs in the planning and execution of simulation training activities and insights for evidence based practice in simulation education throughout the years. Under his leadership, MDSSC has achieved accreditation for Teaching/ Education Standards from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) and Excellence Award in the category of Innovations in Healthcare Technology conferred by the Asian Hospital Management Awards (AHMA).

Dr. So is a well experienced and devoted simulation educator that took up the instructor role and coordinator in various simulation training courses, such as HA Intern Simulation Training Boot Camp, Crew Resource Management Training in Kowloon Central Cluster, etc. He has started to work closely with Anaes & OTS, O&G, Pediatric and Surgical department to develop their specialty-based CRM training since 2017 and kept exploring to expand the training to other specialties such as Cardiothoracic Surgery. Learners of the courses expressed that they could further enhance their knowledge, skills, and attitudes to protect patients in a risk-free learning environment. In addition, he has been actively involved in research activities of MDSSC, collaborating with inter-disciplinary as well as external stakeholders at all levels in establishing and maintaining research projects of publishable standards.

Members

Dr. Susan Baker is an honorary senior research fellow with the University of Queensland. She applies theory and research derived from her work in second language learning to investigating the interpersonal and intergroup dynamics of healthcare. She is interested in language use and communication between doctors and patients, and how it affects patient health outcomes. Specifically, she examines how patient willingness to communicate, communication anxiety and participation in health consultations influence their perceptions of health provider communication strategies. She also explores how patient health status (e.g. chronic, acute conditions), age, and use of technology determine patient communication behaviors as well as their understanding of and ability to follow treatment recommendations. Her other related areas of research  interest focus on the social developmental aspects of language and communication in various contexts. She explores second language (L2) learning motivation, willingness to communicate (WTC), and language anxiety in immersion and non-immersion classrooms in Canada. She also collaborates with musicians in the Gaelic community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in their efforts to identify the motivation to learn and preserve the Gaelic language. 

Dr Angel Chan

Dr Angel Chan is Associate Professor and founding member of the Speech Therapy Unit at the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is also affiliated with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University-Peking University Research Centre on Chinese Linguistics and Research Centre for Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience as a member.  

Her training includes Speech Therapy (BSc, University of Hong Kong), Linguistics (MPhil, Chinese University of Hong Kong), and Psycholinguistics (PhD, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany). She studies child first and second language acquisition in cross-linguistic and multi-lingual contexts, so far involving Cantonese, Mandarin, English, German, Urdu and Kam. Her interests include cognitive linguistic, typological-functional and processing approaches to the study of language acquisition and impairments, clinical linguistics, and development of speech and language assessment tools in a Chinese and bilingual context. 

Her research works are published in Applied PsycholinguisticsJournal of Child LanguageFrontiers in Psychology (Language Sciences)Journal of PhoneticsBilingualism: Language and CognitionInternational Journal of BilingualismCognitionCognitive Development, and Cognitive Linguistics. She currently serves on the editorial board of First Language

Dr Josephine M. Csete
 

Dr Josephine Csete (Josie) has a PhD. In Educational Systems Development and more than 25 years experience in designing, developing and implementing educational innovations as well as teaching others to do so.  Josie is a Senior Educational Development Officer (SEDO) in the Educational Development Centre. She established the “e-Learning Development and Support Section” (eLDSS) which aims to provide an integrated one-stop-shop service for e-learning support for the University and currently coordinates the Staff Development Section.  Her career-long love is instructional design, and over the years she has supported organizations and teachers in developing new subjects and curricula, applying for grants and conducting teaching and learning projects, and supporting institution-wide changes in areas such as implementing pedagogically led e-learning, establishing a university-wide requirement for service-learning, and building a culture for the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). 

Dr Bernadette Chevalier

Dr Bernadette Chevalier received her PhD from the School of Pharmacy at The University of Queensland where she also holds an Honorary Fellow position. Her PhD research investigated the effectiveness of hospital pharmacist communication with patients during medication counselling.

Currently Bernadette is a Research Study Coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is currently working with investigators whose specialty includes older adults with frailty to create an automated frailty index (FI) from existing primary care electronic medical records in collaboration with multiple stakeholders. This FI will allow for more efficient and less resource-intensive identification of patients at risk of frailty who could benefit from targeted clinical assessment and evidence-based interventions.

Her other research interests include healthcare communication with patients as well as between other health professionals, pharmacy practice research, and medication adherence.

Dr Jessica Gasiorek

Dr Jessica Gasiorek (PhD, University of California – Santa Barbara) is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communicology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her research addresses the communication processes, and the social and cognitive consequences that follow from these processes. In particular, she focuses on how people accommodate (adjust) their communication for each other, how people process messages, and how people create understanding. She is also interested in the role of communication in people’s collective ideas about age and aging, and the implications this has for social dynamics, social evaluations, and people’s subjective well-being. Her published work includes both book chapters and empirical articles on perceptions of communication accommodation and nonaccommodation in a range of contexts, understanding, communication about age and aging.

Dr Blair Ying Jin
 
 

Dr Ying Jin works as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of English, University of Macau. Her research interests include discourse analysis, workplace communication (e.g. healthcare communication), conversation analysis, and pragmatics. 

Dr Cindy Ngai

Dr Cindy SB Ngai is an Assistant Professor cum Programme Leader of MA in Bilingual Corporate Communication in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). By adopting an interdisciplinary research approach, she integrates her knowledge of language, media and communication into the business, health and science disciplines. Her work appeared in SCIE and SSCI journals including Discourse and Communication, English for Specific Purpose, International Journal of Business Communication, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Journal of Medial Internet Research, PLOS One, Public Relations Review and Studies in Higher Education.

Dr Rachyl Pines

Dr Rachyl Pines is Research Scientist at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where she leads population and behavioral health research with over 6 years of healthcare research experience. Rachyl completed a short postdoctoral research fellow position with the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation for the Transplant Education and Resource Center where she led patient education and patient experience lines of research about how organ transplantation education for both patients and providers can be improved to help end the organ shortage. She received her PhD in Communication focusing on healthcare in April 2020 from University of California, Santa Barbara. Rachyl has served as the lead on several multi-national research projects, helped hospital and health care systems to improve their provider-patient communication, implemented organizational change and trainings on communication best practices and published more than 13 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Her dissertation focused on training healthcare staff to better communicate with aggressive patients to prevent violence and improve patient care. Rachyl also serves as an executive officer for the International Association of Language and Social Psychology and the International Communication Association.

Dr Billy So

Dr Billy So is the Assistant Professor (Physiotherapy) in the Department of Rehabilitation (RS) at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is an active educator at different health-related areas and he has extensive teaching experience at the community and tertiary levels. He is the recipient of the RS Outstanding Teaching Award 2016/17 and FHSS Teaching Prize 2016/17 of PolyU. Billy is serving in different professional organizations. He is an Executive Committee Member of the Hong Kong Physiotherapy Association, Associate Editor of Hong Kong Physiotherapy Journal, the General Secretary of Hong Kong Ergonomics Society, a Specialist of Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications. 

Research Interests:

  • Occupational Health and Ergonomics
  • Work Disability Prevention
  • Aquatic Physiotherapy
  • Sports Physiotherapy
  • Exoskeleton for preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Acupuncture for Rehabilitation

 

Dr Gerald Stell

Dr Gerald Stell is the Assistant Professor in the Department of English at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 

Research interests:

  • Language variation
  • Intergroup communication, intergroup processes
  • World Englishes
  • Multilingualism/language contact
  • Creole languages

 

Dr Alice Yau

Dr Alice Yau is a lecturer at the Centre for the Applied English Studies (CAES) at The University of Hong Kong. She is particularly interested in research that explores visual computational methods for Cantonese data analysis and lay understanding of medical knowledge in healthcare settings.

PhD students

Melanie Barlow
 

Melanie Barlow is a simulation specialist who has a passion for using experiential education to help improve the care health professionals provide to their patients. With 16 years’ experience in education and as a Clinical Nurse, she understand the importance of different health professionals learning with, from and about each other. Melanie has a passion for improving healthcare communication and currently undertaking a PhD in this field. Her research explores how healthcare clinicians receive messages in a speaking up context and how this can be enhanced to improve interprofessional communication and ultimately patient safety. Her experience in simulation has been from the grass roots level as an educator, through to being Chair of the national healthcare simulation body, the Australian Society for Simulation in Healthcare (ASSH).

Qualifications:

  • Registered Nurse (Bachelor of Nursing)
  • PhD Candidate (University of Queensland)
  • Graduate Diploma (Critical Care)
  • Masters in Nursing (Intensive Care)
  • Graduate Certificate of Education (Leadership and Management)

 

Amy Han Qiu
 

Amy Han Qiu is a PhD student with the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her research interests lie in Cognitive linguistics, and the language of psychotherapy.

For more information, please visit https://www.polyu.edu.hk/engl/people/research-students/?staffid=319

Xixi Wang

Xixi Wang is a PhD student with the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her research interests lie in health communication, language and communication, and discourse analysis. Xixi’s interest in these areas developed when she embarked on her Master’s research in health communication and was able to observe patient-provider interactions in a hospital in the United States. Xixi is particularly interested in marginalized and vulnerable populations such as immigrants and refugees and is currently researching healthcare issues among Filipino and Indonesian foreign domestic workers (FDW) in Hong Kong. Her research seeks to promote effective communication between healthcare providers and FDW patients. Of particular interest are the factors that affect FDW patients’ participation in the healthcare decision-making process, such as their perception of involvement in medical consultations. Xixi’s research aims to explore these issues in Hong Kong and then provide insights into what can be done to improve communication between FDW and healthcare providers. Xixi believes that this research will contribute to raising social awareness of the health issues affecting female FDW particularly.

For more information, please visit https://www.polyu.edu.hk/engl/people/research-students/?staffid=292

Research personnel

 

Dr Beatrice Lok is a Project Associate of the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Ivy Wu
 

Ivy Wu is a Research Associate in the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is currently working closely with Prof. Bernadette Watson and the International Research Centre for the Advancement of Health Communication (IRCAHC) on a number of projects. The most significant of these is a project examining barriers and facilitators to patient care in Hong Kong public hospitals. Her other research focuses on second language teaching, with a particular emphasis on teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL).