The Health Communication Service is a specialized area of Internal Medicine and Psychosomatics at the University Hospital Basel. The main focus is on teaching, training and continuing education for students and doctors in the field of communication competence. In addition to practical training, workshops and courses at the University Hospital, one of our main areas of work is teaching communication skills at the university within the longitudinal curriculum of medical studies.

Our services

Communication in doctor-patient conversations forms the basis of good medical treatment and is one of the core competencies of medical practice, along with professionalism and medical expertise. Numerous studies have shown that successful communication can improve patient satisfaction and other patient-relevant outcomes.

Post-ICU Consultation

The POST-ICU CARE special consultation service was established in 2017 for patients and relatives following a critical illness and is a one-of-its-kind flagship project in Switzerland to date. The diverse research activities, e.g. in the area of communication in emergency situations or communication between doctor and patient and family members, aim to promote evidence-based communication at the University Hospital in the long run.


The post-ICU consultation is a special consultation for patients and relatives following a critical illness. The aim of this consultation is to talk about and review your stay in the intensive care unit, for example after resuscitation or another critical illness. When it comes to diseases with, oftentimes, complex courses, it is important to ensure where necessary and appropriate that the patient’s medical history is reviewed and the evaluations and therapies are completed.

The consultation services are interprofessional, and psychosocial support is also provided. Difficult issues often arise in matters of life and death, and relatives of intensive care unit patients often develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Communication Training

Communication training courses for doctors, nurses and students at universities.


  • Communication in emergency situations (simulation training)
  • Communication between doctor and patient/relatives
  • Breaking bad news
  • Patient-oriented evidence-based communication

Latest news from the Health Communication Service


Although visits by chief physicians are one of the most important pillars of inpatient care, there is hardly any randomized data on the best approach to patient engagement. The multicentre study carried out at the University Hospital Basel and the Cantonal Hospital Aarau is intended to provide important insights into the preferences of patients as well as nurses and lead to more patient-centered care.


During the chief physician’s visit, the patient is discussed in front of the patient’s room and the patient is informed later on, or the chief physician’s visit is carried out in the patient’s room with the patient’s direct participation. There is also a question as to how much the patients understand about their diagnosis, therapy approach, and the next steps in the treatment plan.


The data collection for this study is complete and took place between the summer of 2017 and the fall of 2019. The data is currently being evaluated.


This study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

In the Communicate study at the USB, we are currently investigating how and whether a communication strategy can reduce the morbidity of critically ill patients’ relatives, especially with regard to post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the University Hospital Basel, the patient's wishes and preferences with regard to resuscitation in the event of cardiovascular arrest are routinely discussed and documented every time the patient is admitted. Talking about this topic and making a decision is challenging and potentially difficult. In a randomized multicenter study, we are investigating the effect of different communication strategies on the resuscitation conversation. In this context, we are particularly interested in the patients’ perspective. The aim is to help improve the conversation and decision-making about resuscitation.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of the relationship between communication interventions and resuscitation decisions showed that communication interventions, especially resuscitation videos as decision-making aids, were associated with an increased likelihood of patients refusing resuscitation in the event of cardiovascular arrest. In addition, there were indications of a link between communication interventions and increased knowledge about resuscitation.

In patient simulator research, we work with the team from the Medical Intensive Care Unit to investigate the influence of important communication elements such as assertive statements. It has been shown that targeted instruction via assertive communication can significantly improve resuscitation performance. Fortunately, the results of these studies have been incorporated into the resuscitation guidelines of the American Heart Association since 2010. It is now recommended to teach communication skills relating to teamwork and leadership in resuscitation courses. A large multicenter, randomized trial is currently underway with an American center to examine the effect of the leadership role assignment and group size in a resuscitation setting.

“Women perform worse in resuscitation”


There are plans to create a communication guide at the University Hospital Basel, and/or Northwestern Switzerland, entitled the «Communication Pocket Guide».



Prof. Sabina Hunziker Schütz

Leitende Ärztin

Medizinische Kommunikation


Tabita Urben


Medizinische Kommunikation


Erika Huggel

Administrative Mitarbeiterin

Medizinische Kommunikation