Dr Mary Dahm

PhD (Macquarie University), MA (University Of Konstanz)
Research Fellow
College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 2 6125 4027

Research interests

Mary is a linguist analysing how the little (or big) things we do (or don't do) with language impact on patient safety and quality of care. 

She has a keen interest in Communicating for Diagnostic Excellence, improving the critical diagnostic conversations clinicians have with patients, from history taking to providing diagnosis, discussing risk and managing and communicating uncertainty.

Mary's program of work is impactful, translational research at the nexus of applied linguistics and health communication. Her interdisciplinary collaborations involve clinicians across a range of care settings, health consumer representatives, and patients. She aims to identify communication and systemic issues to address barriers to improve diagnosis, patient safety and quality of care through innovative consumer-driven research in health communication.



Dr Mary Dahm is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Communication in Health Care (ICH) at the Australian National University.

She combines her passion for patient-centred health research with her interdisciplinary expertise in qualitative and mixed methods approaches in health communication and health services research. 

Mary is increasingly gaining international recognition for her drive to apply her unique skills and expertise to illuminate and improve vulnerable communicative processes in health care. She has been an invited keynote speaker at the second Australasian Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference in April 2019 in Melbourne and at the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB) 57th Annual Scientific Conference in October 2019 in Adelaide.

Patient engagement and consumer-driven research activities are central to her work. She has successfully led inclusive stakeholder workshops to enhance patient contributions towards addressing systemic issues and influencing health care policy.

She has published over 30 peer reviewed publications on a wide range of health communication topics including patient-centred communication, clinical handovers, surgical risk communication, health information infrastructure, and rapport and trust in consultations. 

Mary is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University. There she was the project lead for an NHMRC-funded partnership project on improving test result management run in collaboration with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, NSW Pathology and Health Consumers NSW.


Available student projects

I am available to supervise research student projects focused on health communication, interpersonal pragmatics and projects employing qualitative methods in health services research and discourse analysis in professional interactions.

Currently there are options for shorter term research placement projects related to

  • communication in diagnosis and communication of diagnostic uncertainty,
  • systematic reviews on end of life communication in intensive care
  • shared decision making for patient with chronic kidney disease
  • consumer/ patient engagement in health communication research

Feel free to contact me with further proposals.




Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  19 May 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers