Professor Diana Slade

PhD (USyd), MA (U London) Grad DipEd (UniSA), BA (UAdel), RSA Certificate (TESOL, IH London)
Director of the ANU Institute for Communication in Health Care
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

Diana Slade is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the Institute for Communication in Health Care (ICH) at the Australian National University. Her main research areas are linguistics, description of spoken English, communication in health care, organisational communication, applied linguistics and translational research method design.

Her significant contribution in linguistics is in the description and analysis of spoken English. She has been highly cited internationally for three of her key publications in this area: two co-authored books, Analysing Casual Conversation with Suzanne Eggins (1997, Equinox) and Conversation: From Description to Pedagogy with Scott Thornbury (2006, Cambridge University Press); and one internationally refereed article, ‘Discourse Analysis,’ co-authored with Michael McCarthy.

Since 2008, Diana has focused on the critical role of communication in the provision of safe and effective healthcare. Her research in communication in health care draws from linguistics, sociology, qualitative research methods and design, medicine, nursing and other health science-related disciplines, and has attracted a broad interdisciplinary readership.

During this time she has received research funding of approximately $6,900,000 AUD, led 20 cross-disciplinary research projects on healthcare communication across Hong Kong and Australia, and been second investigator on a further seven projects. Her publications in this field include ten book chapters and 25 articles in internationally refereed journals. Her books in the field include Effective Communication in Clinical Handover: From Research to Practice with Eggins and Geddes (eds. 2016, de Gruyter Mouton), and Communicating in Hospital Emergency Departments with Manidis et al. (2015, Springer).

Diana’s current research foci include end-of-life communication and self-management of chronic conditions, as exemplified by the multi-site project funded by the Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation on ‘Improving communication to enhance patients’ health literacy, empowerment and self-management of heart failure’.


Diana has over 30 years of experience in researching, teaching and publishing in applied linguistics, linguistics and organisational communication. She has co-authored six books; co-edited two books; and co-authored 31 refereed journal articles, 20 book chapters, 16 major reports and six published teaching and training materials. Since 2011 she has been a plenary or invited speaker to 31 national and international conferences. She has 9172 Google Scholar citations as of February 2023.

Diana’s first book, Analysing Casual Conversation (1997, co-authored with Dr Suzanne Eggins) on the description of spoken English, was a unique contribution to the fields of linguistics and applied linguistics as it developed a systematic model for the analysis and description of spoken English. Her second book in this area, Conversation: from Description to Pedagogy (2006), published by Cambridge University Press, was co-authored with Scott Thornbury.

Since 2008, Diana’s research and publications have focused on the critical role of communication in the provision of safe and effective healthcare. Her publications since 2008, in addition to two books and eleven book chapters, include 20 articles in internationally refereed journals.

Diana’s co-authored/edited books since 2008 include Communicating in Hospital Emergency Departments (2015); Effective Communication in Clinical Handover – from Research to Practice (2016); and Systemic Functional Linguistics, Part 1, Volume 1: The Collected Works of Christian M.I.M Matthiessen (2020). Slade was also a Harvard Macy Scholar in medical education at Harvard Medical School in 2013.

In 2018, Professor Slade was appointed the founding Director of the ANU Institute for Communication in Health Care (ICH), an internationally renowned research centre focusing on healthcare communication research that is translational, inter-professional and international. Its goal is to transform healthcare practice in Australia and internationally. In 2020 Diana also founded the International Consortium for Communication in Health Care (IC4CH), an international, interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaborative that unites leading research centres in the field of healthcare communication.

Professor Slade currently leads multiple projects in the field of healthcare communication, including on self-management of heart failure, communication in clinical handover, communication at end-of-life, and improving consent and decision-making procedures for dialysis patients.

Researcher's projects

Due to the evidence-based translational impact of her research in different healthcare contexts, Diana has received funding from numerous organisations and philanthropic sources to undertake translational research in hospitals. She has led 26 research projects, including 13 competitive research grants on healthcare communication across Hong Kong and Australia, and is currently on four projects on different aspects of healthcare communication research.

Diana has led two consecutive national ARC Linkage grants, the first on Communication in Hospital Emergency Departments, which examined clinician-patient communication across five hospital emergency departments; the second on Effective Communication in Clinical Handover which investigated the effectiveness of clinical handover communication in NSW, ACT, SA and WA.

Diana was second CI on an ARC project on communication at discharge from hospital to the community, and worked with a team in Hong Kong on two grants, one with a large private hospital—Hong Kong Sanatorium Hospital—and another with Queen Elizabeth hospital (to investigate SPEAK up strategies).

From 2019 to 2022 Diana received philanthropic and industry funding to undertake translational research at sites in the St Vincent’s Hospital Group on communication in nursing handovers. This project had a marked, measured impact on patient safety and quality of care. The success of this project led to the further funding by the Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation and the St. Vincent’s Hospital Group towards a stepped-wedge control trial intervention, ACCELERATE, across three major St. Vincent’s hospitals, which has since been expanded to further hospitals.

Since 2019 Diana and her team at the ICH have received funding from Canberra Health Services to investigate end-of-life interactions at The Canberra Hospital; from the ANU Connect Ventures Discovery Translation Fund to evaluate the economic impact of their work on nursing clinical handover; and most recently from the Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation for their multi-site project, ‘Improving communication to enhance patients’ health literacy, empowerment and self-management of heart failure’.

These projects demonstrate the relevance of communication frameworks based on actual interactions between clinicians and patients, and the benefits to practice that can be achieved through empirical linguistic research and evidence-based targeted communication resources, co-developed with healthcare professionals.

Current student projects

  • Maheyrin Chowdhury, PhD thesis, 2022-. An exploration of culture and trauma-informed health communication practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in antenatal care settings. 
  • Toni Ashmore, PhD thesis, 2022-. Does a structured approach improve end of life care in comparison to routine care in an acute hospital setting or a specialist palliative care ward in an acute hospital setting?


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Updated:  05 March 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers