Senior Lecturer

Dr Sarah White

Doctor of Philosophy, 2011, University of Otago  

Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Linguistics and Spanish and Latin American Studies, 2006, University of New South Wales 

Business School
Centre for Social Impact

I am a conversation analyst and I help people to improve how they work together through communication. I achieve this through researching conversation as it happens in the wild, developing data-driven training and using up-to-date teaching methods, and communicating more broadly about the science of conversation.

As an educator, I have experience in teaching across the breadth of higher and continuing education, particularly with healthcare students and providers. I create authentic learning experiences to support students to become critical thinkers and resilient professionals. This approach is designed to assist in developing learner capacity to analyse the quality of information, communicate and work in teams, and critically consider ethical, social, and professional challenges.

As an educational leader, I aim to instil that same intense focus and commitment to evidence-informed student learning in those that I mentor and within the teams I lead. My accomplishments and reflective approach to learning and teaching were recognised through being awarded Senior Fellow of Advance HE (SFHEA) in 2019 and a 2021 Australian Award for University Teaching Citation.

As a researcher, I lead an innovative program of research with an aim to improve communication between clinicians and patients. This includes research on surgeon-patient consultations, telehealth, and pain talk. Findings from this and other research, as well as methods, editorial and opinion articles, have been published and presented to a range of communication, clinical, and policy audiences. I am on the editorial board for BJGP Open, Qualitative Health Communication, and Health Literacy and Communication Open

At a national and international level, I contribute to the fields of conversation analysis and healthcare communication. I have written articles sharing the science of conversation for MJA Insight+ and I am the founder and director of Bedside Manners Pty Ltd, a company offering bespoke healthcare communication training and consultancy services. I am an active member of the International Society for Conversation Analysis (ISCA) and the International Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH). 

  • Book Chapters | 2019
    White SJ, 2019, 'Conversation analysis: An introduction to methodology, data collection, and analysis', in Handbook of Research Methods in Health Social Sciences, pp. 471 - 490,
    Book Chapters | 2018
    White SJ, 2018, 'Conversation Analysis: An Introduction to Methodology, Data Collection, and Analysis', in Handbook of Research Methods in Health Social Sciences, Springer Singapore, pp. 1 - 20,
    Book Chapters | 2015
    White SJ, 2015, '9. Closing clinical consultations', in Handbuch Sprache in der Medizin, DE GRUYTER, pp. 170 - 187,
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Calyx C; Weerasuriya R; White SJ, 2023, 'Embedding telehealth for sustainable health services linking Oceania', Family Practice, 40, pp. 505 - 507,
    Journal articles | 2023
    White S; Dahm MR, 2023, 'Editorial. Opening the doors of perception – QHC as a fee-free open access journal', Qualitative Health Communication, 2,
    Journal articles | 2023
    White SJ; Condon B; Ditton-Phare P; Dodd N; Gilroy J; Hersh D; Kerr D; Lambert K; McPherson ZE; Mullan J; Saad S; Stubbe M; Warren-James M; Weir KR; Gilligan C, 2023, 'Enhancing effective healthcare communication in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand: Considerations for research, teaching, policy, and practice', PEC Innovation, 3,
    Journal articles | 2023
    White SJ; Stubbe M, 2023, 'Patient Responses to Diagnosis in Surgeon-Patient Consultations', Health Communication, 38, pp. 608 - 617,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White S; Stubbe M, 2022, '“D’yuh like porridge”: Social talk as a relational, interactional, and clinical component of surgical consultations', Qualitative Health Communication, 1, pp. 4 - 25,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White SJ; Dambha-Miller H, 2022, 'Telehealth and primary care: a special collection from BJGP Open', BJGP Open, 6,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White SJ; Davies L; Cartmill JA; Bokor DJ; Dahm MR, 2022, '“For review and management”: The role of the referral letter in surgical consultations', Qualitative Health Communication, 1, pp. 48 - 60,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White SJ; Nguyen A; Cartmill JA, 2022, 'Agency and the telephone: Patient contributions to the clinical and interactional agendas in telehealth consultations', Patient Education and Counseling, 105, pp. 2074 - 2080,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White SJ; Nguyen A; Roger P; Tse T; Cartmill JA; Willcock SM, 2022, 'Experiences of telehealth in general practice in Australia: research protocol for a mixed-methods study', BJGP Open, 6, pp. 1 - 6,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White SJ; Preda V, 2022, 'Communication as a clinical skill: A challenge in the delivery of safe and effective patient care', Australian Health Review, 46, pp. 62 - 63,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White SJ, 2022, 'Bedside matters: Acknowledging responsibility in effective doctor–patient conversations', EMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia, 34, pp. 280 - 281,
    Journal articles | 2022
    White SJ, 2022, 'Developing a study protocol for research using conversation analysis to examine clinical consultations', Research Methods in Applied Linguistics, 1,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Willcock SM; Cartmill JA; Tse T; White SJ; Nguyen A; Roger P, 2022, 'How will telehealth change primary care in Australia?', BJGP Open, 6,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Li Ching Ng A; McRobb LS; White SJ; Cartmill JA; Cyna AM; Seex K, 2021, 'Consent for spine surgery: an observational study', ANZ Journal of Surgery, 91, pp. 1220 - 1225,
    Journal articles | 2021
    White SJ; Barello S; Cao di San Marco E; Colombo C; Eeckman E; Gilligan C; Graffigna G; Jirasevijinda T; Mosconi P; Mullan J; Rehman SU; Rubinelli S; Vegni E; Krystallidou D, 2021, 'Critical observations on and suggested ways forward for healthcare communication during COVID-19: pEACH position paper', Patient Education and Counseling, 104, pp. 217 - 222,
    Journal articles | 2021
    White SJ; Butlin M; Brown A; White R, 2021, 'Correlation of patient- And clinician-assessment of pain: Comparing physiotherapy and general practice', Australian Journal of Primary Health, 27, pp. 291 - 296,
    Journal articles | 2021
    White SJ; Ward K; Hibberd E, 2021, 'A pilot of modified Conversation Analytic Role-play Method for one-to-one clinical communication training', Patient Education and Counseling, 104, pp. 2748 - 2755,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Kocaballi AB; Coiera E; Tong HL; White SJ; Quiroz JC; Rezazadegan F; Willcock S; Laranjo L, 2019, 'A network model of activities in primary care consultations', Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 26, pp. 1074 - 1082,
    Journal articles | 2019
    White SJ, 2019, 'The science of talk in clinical science: using a conversation analytic approach as a foundation for communication skills training', MedEdPublish, 8, pp. 224 - 224,
    Journal articles | 2016
    White SJ; Casey M, 2016, 'Understanding differences between actual and simulated surgical consultations: A scoping study', Australian Journal of Linguistics, 36, pp. 257 - 272,
    Journal articles | 2014
    White SJ; Stubbe MH; Macdonald LM; Dowell AC; Dew KP; Gardner R, 2014, 'Framing the Consultation: The Role of the Referral in Surgeon-Patient Consultations', Health Communication, 29, pp. 74 - 80,
    Journal articles | 2013
    White SJ; Stubbe MH; Dew KP; MacDonald LM; Dowell AC; Gardner R, 2013, 'Understanding communication between surgeon and patient in outpatient consultations', ANZ Journal of Surgery, 83, pp. 307 - 311,
    Journal articles | 2012
    White SJ, 2012, 'Closing Surgeon-Patient Consultations', INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF PRAGMATICS, 4, pp. 58 - 79,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Jorm CM; White S; Kaneen T, 2009, 'Clinical handover: critical communications', MEDICAL JOURNAL OF AUSTRALIA, 190, pp. S108 - S109,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Jorm CM; White S; Kaneen T, 2009, 'Clinical handover: critical communications.', The Medical journal of Australia, 190,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Jorm CM; White SJ, 2009, 'Using research to make health care safer', Australian Health Review, 33, pp. 400 - 407,
    Journal articles | 2009
    2009, 'International Forum on Quality and Safety in Health Care, March 2009, Berlin, Germany', Quality and Safety in Health Care, 18, pp. e1 - e1,


Project Title: 

$ Awarded 

Years Funded 

UNSW Health@Business Network 

Embedding health literacy in clinical practice 



Avant Foundation 

Telehealth in General Practice 



Macquarie University 

The effect of pain on interaction in consultation settings 



Macquarie University 

Simulation versus practice 



Macquarie University 

Teaching skilled clinical communication 



Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, 2021 Australian Awards for University Teaching  

Teaching Quality Improvement Award, Highly Commended, 2021, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Macquarie University  

Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, Highly Commended, 2018, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University 


My sustainable approach to research has involved developing a database of recorded consultations. Through this, I have led and collaborated on numerous analyses of naturally occurring clinical consultations, with collaborative projects and publications in healthcare. This includes co-supervising MD students at several different medical schools. By supervising their research, I have contributed to their in-depth understanding of how conversation works, facilitating their development as reflective practitioners as they move into medical careers. 

I am one of a few highly trained conversation analysts in Australia who specialises in how the methodology applies to healthcare. I have contributed to conversation analysis for over a decade through data sessions, supervision, mentoring, and social media engagement. I frequently collaborate to integrate multiple methods to create a more robust picture of clinical communication in practice. Through this, I have developed expertise in working in mixed and multi-methods, including those relevant to linguistic ethnography such as thematic analysis, content analysis, action research, and the application of coding schemes.

My Research Supervision

My Teaching

I am an academic mentor at UNSW.

I teach into the Integrated First Year program for the UNSW Business School. This includes convening COMM1120 Collaboration and Innovation and lecturing on sustainability, systems thinking, and ethics. I have previously contributed to teaching in other undergraduate and postgraduate courses for the Centre for Social Impact.

I have been awarded Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), AAUT Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, and Faculty-internal commendations for leadership of multidisciplinary teams in curriculum development and renewal and teaching professional development. I have contributed to pedagogical research on clinical communication education through funded research on approaches to training to improve authentic and actionable education.