The Teaching and Learning of Communication Skills in Social Work Education

Emma Reith-hall, Paul Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: This article presents a systematic review of research into the teaching and learning of communication skills in social work education. Methods: We conducted a systematic review, adhering to the Cochrane Handbook of Systematic Reviews for Interventions and PRISMA reporting guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Results: Sixteen records reporting on fifteen studies met the eligibility criteria. Studies consisted of randomised trials and quasi-experimental designs. Outcome measures included knowledge, attitudes and skills. Significant heterogeneity meant a narrative synthesis rather than meta-analysis was undertaken. Systematic communication skills training supports the development of students’ communication skills including the demonstration of expressed empathy and interviewing skills. Discussion: The existing body of literature is limited but promising. Researchers conducting studies into communication skills training should seek to carry out robust and rigorous outcomes-focused studies. Further investigation into the theoretical underpinnings of the educational interventions and the roles played by key stakeholders is also required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-813
Number of pages21
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number7
Early online date24 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study is supported by ESRC DTP funding [Grant number: ES/P000711/1].

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • communication skills
  • social work education
  • systematic review


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