Facilitating Healthcare Dieticians’ Communication Skills: A Reflective Practice Intervention

Gareth Picknell, Brendan Cropley*, Stephen Mellalieu, Sheldon Hanton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reflective practice (RP) is a widely accepted approach for facilitating experiential learning within the professional development of service delivery practitioners. However, a dearth of empirical evidence exists to support the potential efficacy of RP for improving applied practice effectiveness. This study examined whether improving professionals’ ability to engage in RP at more advanced critical levels impacted their use of communication skills (CS) in practice. A quasi-experimental, multiple-baseline, crossover design was employed with 20 Emirati female dieticians who were assigned to one of two groups and exposed to three RP treatments and three control periods. Baseline and post-intervention measures of RP and CS were administered to assess whether improved RP skills subsequently impacted practice behaviors. A significant difference between experimental and control groups’ RP scores were reported over the treatment period. For CS there was an intervention effect for: listening and rapport; questioning skills; comprehensiveness; organization; transitional statements; and approach to planning and education. The findings indicate that the intervention was successful for improving participants’ reflective skills, resulting in more favorable practice behaviors (e.g., CS). This study makes a novel contribution to the literature by providing rigorous empirical evidence to support the value of RP as a meta-cognitive strategy for improving service delivery behaviors in health professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12306
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Training and Development
Issue number00
Early online date31 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jul 2023


  • critical reflection
  • effectiveness
  • practice behaviors
  • service delivery
  • health professionals


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