MarketSavvy Blog

Interview with Michelle Lum - Are Your Patients and Clients Afraid?

POSTED BY: Megan Walker

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I recently attended a conference for health promoters and I met a fascinating lady, Michelle Lum, from Queensland University of Technology, who is a research PhD scholar with a background in behavioural science psychology . Michelle has devoted her research to understanding communication and fear barriers that patients have when it comes to accessing healthcare, especially in the primary setting.


This concept of fear as a barrier was new-ish to me but I pretty quickly understood the concern that if patients are frightened of seeking medical attention or advice, or have barriers that prevent them from accepting the advice, they are disadvantaged when it comes to improving their health situation.

I also recognised that this issue of fear is a barrier to successful marketing outcomes. Hence, I sat down with Michelle to unpack this multi-layered and complex issue in the following interview.

Topics covered

In this interview 20 minute interview with Michelle Lum, you will have an opportunity to view healthcare through the eyes of your patients and clients. You will hear some of the following key points:

  • People are not pathologies
  • Communication challenges are part of the human experience
  • Communication is dynamic and interactive and each person shapes the exchange of information so communication outcomes are co-created
  • Healthcare can be intimidating and can elicit fight, flight or freeze responses that can range from subtle to obvious
  • Healthcare is viewed through experience, existing beliefs and context
  • Healthcare can involve intimate interactions in often task-oriented ways in limited timeframes

And for some people, just being in a medical setting can increase their blood pressure. 

Watch the interview with Michelle Lum and Megan Walker:

Take part in Michelle's research

Michelle's current research project "Healthcare Communication Research" is recruiting members of the Australian community until the end of 2018.

The purpose of this research is to explore how people feel about their communication experiences within primary healthcare services, including medical and dental services, pathology testing, x-rays, and other allied healthcare therapies. We would like to understand how people feel about communicating with healthcare practitioners when they attend these services as patients. The research does not include communication within psychological or mental health services.

The research team is looking for Australian resident adults (18 years and older) who have experience interacting with healthcare practitioners, such as within consultations with general practitioners (GPs), dentists, physiotherapists, and pathology service staff, etc.

Click here to take part in the research project.

More information

For more information on building a clear and effective communications program for your practice and enhancing patient / client communication, please contact me or phone 0417 602 390.