Mass Comm Research Team Helps CLEAR the Way

The group created a successful campaign to ensure sustainability of a newly implemented customer service training program.

This poster is one of the branding items the Texas Tech research team used in its sustainability efforts.

This poster is one of the branding items the Texas Tech research team developed during its sustainability efforts.

A research team from Texas Tech’s College of Mass Communications created a successful campaign to ensure sustainability of a newly implemented customer service training program for emergency department staff at Rhode Island Hospital.

The goal of Project CLEAR (Communication Leading to Excellence and Ameliorating Risk) is to give structure and consistency to the method in which hospital staffs communicate with each other and their patients.

The Rhode Island physician team, lead by Lynn A. Sweeney, M.D., developed the modules that combined simulation sessions with customer satisfaction modules to create Project CLEAR. The Texas Tech researchers developed the sustainment effort.

“There is always a concern when you implement such a big change that the people involved will commit themselves early in the program and then slowly go back to doing things the old way,” said Coy Callison, senior researcher on the team and associate dean for graduate studies in the College of Mass Communications.

To counteract this possible effect, the Texas Tech research team collaborated with physicians from Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University to ensure hospital personnel maintained the lessons taught during training.

During the research, the team focused on:

  • Branding (including design)
  • Determining current practices
  • Investigating pre-program communication patterns
  • Learning the attitudes and opinions of hospital personnel regarding past training efforts

Developing a Strategy

The research team included Trent Seltzer, chairman of the Department of Public Relations, and Associate Professor Shannon Bichard and Assistant Professor Liz Gardner.

The team conducted an analysis and research into the sustainability of the program. The designing of a logo to give a brand identity to the project, and the creation of visual messaging instruments throughout the emergency department to reinforce the lessons learned during training were only the visual aspects of the initiative.

Callison said almost 80 percent of the team’s effort was focused on the investigation of the hospital structure, attitudes and opinions of staff members, and cultural identity of the staff to determine the most effective method to sustain the effort.

Coy Callison is a senior researcher on the team and associate dean for graduate studies in the  College of Mass Communications.

Coy Callison is a senior researcher on the team and associate dean for graduate studies in the College of Mass Communications.

The work began with a look at the history of the emergency department and in-depth interviews with key public leaders of the project. Then the team conducted a series of on-site focus groups with hospital employees to get an understanding of possible obstacles and available opportunities.

With the information garnered through the preliminary research, Callison said, the team developed a strategic planning method to evaluate the project’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In addition, the team conducted a web survey of all personnel in the emergency department to address issues that emerged from the analysis.

“We continued to provide messaging during the training to keep the positive momentum,” Callison said.

Following the training, the team conducted a follow-up survey to measure changes in opinions and perceptions. The information learned from the survey results provided a guide for future efforts.

As a result of the project’s success, it has received national media attention, including mentions in News-Medical.Net, Medical Xpress, Health Fitness & Beauty and WorldNews.

Callison said Texas Tech’s involvement with Project CLEAR gives faculty and graduate students in mass communications the opportunity to not only further their own real-world experiences but also the collaborative opportunities that will come from other partners in the future who will want to associate with Texas Tech because of the project’s success.

As a result of Project CLEAR, Callison said independent data has shown an increase in patient satisfaction and improved health care in Rhode Island.

“I am proud of the work we have done on Project CLEAR,” Callison said. “It is nice to know that these very real outcomes have come with the help of a group of us here in Texas.”


College of Media & Communication

College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech offers undergraduate degrees in various communications-related disciplines including:

The College also offers graduate degrees in communications to prepare students for careers in the communications industry, communications research and academia.

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