Communications skills and moral principles in health care: Aspects of their relationship and implications for professional education

David Barnard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


There are critical points of convergence between the major moral principles in health care and the requirements for effective communications skills. Developments in these fields have proceeded in relative isolation from each other, with the result that health professions' students often learn ethical principles in the abstract, without clear understanding of their implications for caring behaviors in the clinic. Similarly, communications skills instruction often lacks the firm intellectual foundations that ethics and humanities perspectives can provide. The moral principles that are discussed are beneficence and nonmaleficence, respect for persons, and justice. The overlap and mutual reinforcement between these principles and skills in clinical practice requires collaborative educational efforts by ethics and humanities faculty, communications experts, and clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-358
Number of pages10
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1986



  • Bioethics
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Moral principles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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