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Annegret Friederike Hannawa


Prof. Dr. Annegret Hannawa is tenured Professor of Health Communication and founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety (CAHQS) at the Faculty of Communication, Culture & Society at USI. She is also founding President and Director of Research Affairs of the ISCOME Global Institute for the Advancement of Communication Science in Healthcare.

Hannawa has received Honorary titles as "Associate Faculty" at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health (USA), and "Honorary Research Associate" at Cardiff University's Medical School (Wales, UK). Through the extensive scientific evidence she has generated to address "hot topics" in healthcare (e.g. digital health technologies, teamwork, big data, safety, medical errors, patient activation, family empowerment, healthy aging, patient-centered care), she has become a renowned scientific thought leader in the fields of "Patient safety" and "Quality of care."

For the past five years, she has served courts, the WHO, and health ministers across the globe with her evidence-based scientific advice. Among many prominent events, she has been invited as a speaker to the global Ministerial Patient Safety Summit (in service to over 60 health ministries), the World Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit (with Bill Clinton), and the Bill & Melinda Gates "Grand Challenges" Meeting (with Bill Gates and Angela Merkel).

Among her four scientific innovations, "SACCIA safe communication" and "Medical Error Disclosure Competence (MEDC)" are now considered practice standards to improve patient safety and quality of care worldwide. In her most recent grant-funded work, Hannawa is currently extending her safety research to other high-risk industries (e.g. aviation).


Professor Hannawa obtained her higher educational degrees at San Diego State University (B.A. in 2002, M.A. in 2006, Interpersonal Communication and Quantitative Research Methods) and Arizona State University (Ph.D. in 2009, Interpersonal Communication, Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods) in the USA. Prior to joining the faculty at USI, she served as tenure-track Assistant Professor of Health Communication and Empirical Research Methods at Wake Forest University in North Carolina (USA; 2009-2011).


Research focus:

Professor Hannawa’s scientific expertise lies in the domains of interpersonal communication competence, digitization, healthcare quality, patient safety, and advanced research methodology. Her research agenda focuses on transdisciplinary approaches to optimizing health care, and positive health outcomes that can be achieved through safer interpersonal interaction. Her most recent grants (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the GBA-Innovationsfonds and Dräger Foundation) have developed evidence-based communication guidelines for "SACCIA Safe communication" and "MEDC Medical error disclosurecompetence" for effective error prevention and error disclosure in the context of healthcare-induced harm. Her research has also examined physicians’ verbal and nonverbal communication styles with patients that facilitate positive and negative physiological (e.g., patient and physician well-being), psychological (e.g., rumination, distress, feelings of guilt), relational (e.g., trust, forgiveness, satisfaction), organizational (e.g., litigation), and systemic (e.g., doctor-switching) health outcomes. Prof. Hannawa founded and now chairs the ISCOME Global Institute for the Advancement of Communication Science in Healthcare, which actively pursues global, interdisciplinary research collaborations between leading scholars in communication science and healthcare.

Scientific innovations:

Professor Hannawa has developed four scientific innovations with her team:

1. The "SACCIA" guideline defines five evidence-based core competencies for "safe communication" in everyday clinical practice (Sufficiency, Accuracy, Clarity, Contextualization, Interpersonal Adaptation);

2. The "MEDC" (Medical Error Disclosure Competence) framework serves as a scientific guideline for disclosing medical errors to patients and care companions;

3. The "INQUAT" (Integrative Quality Care Assessment Tool) serves as an evidence-based instrument to assist healthcare leaders in their evaluation of healthcare quality;

4. The "TRACE" (Tool for the Retrospective Analysis of Critical Events) is an evidence-based tool for analyzing critical incidents -- including adverse events, near misses and harmless hits.

Publications and awards:

Professor Hannawa’s published five books, and over 40 scientific studies in a variety of distinguished journals (see CV). Her research has been recognized with several international awards. Most recently, she won the 2016 Jozien Bensing Research Award for outstanding career achievements and impact. Her book "Communication Competence" was recognized with the NCA Communication Apprehension and Competence Division's 2016 Best Edited Book Award. Furthermore, four of her investigations received “Top Paper Awards” by the U.S. National Communication Association and the Swiss Patient Safety Foundation.

Competence areas