Behind the mask: clinical communication in a time of COVID-19

Investigating how healthcare conversations have been affected by the need to stay apart, and by the need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

People with MND and their professional and informal carers know what it's like to struggle to communicate. They are experts by experience on the behaviours and technologies which can minimise barriers to communication. During the pandemic, distancing and PPE is creating further profound challenges to communication which complicate or prevent therapeutic interventions in health and social care. The study aims to:

  1. Identify how physical distancing and the use of PPE affects caring communication in a clinical context
  2. Identify how, and to what extent, clinicians and their clients adapt to PPE and distancing
  3. Use real-life experiences to formulate recommendations for adaptations to practice which minimise distress and facilitate health and social care communication when PPE and distancing are factors

The recommendations will be included in a report to policymakers.

By being involved in this study, people in the MND community can help to shape future practices and products which will help communication. The findings will inform the mid- to long-term changes in communication and infection control practices, in and beyond the sphere of health and social care, which will be necessary for society to function as normally as possible in the presence of COVID-19 and beyond.

What does taking part involve?

Completion of an online survey. The survey includes the option for respondents to provide their contact details if they wish to be interviewed and/or take part in discussion groups. These interviews/discussion groups will take place online by Teams video call.

For people who prefer to complete a paper version of the questionnaire, the PDF version which is provided below can be printed and sent to the study team at Durham University.

Study location

Durham University is conducting this remote study to understand the effects of PPE and distancing on health and care conversations.

If you would like to take part in the online survey, please click on the button below:

Or, print and complete the PDF version of the survey below, and send to the address in the document:

Who can take part?

• We would like to hear about the experiences of people who have needed to receive or provide health and/or social care during the pandemic, in the role of service user, family member, informal carer or health/social care professional.

• Anyone who is aged 18 and over

• Lives in the UK.

• The study is not MND-specific so the survey link can be circulated throughout the wider population.

How can I take part?

To take part in the survey, use the buttons on this page.


For any queries or further information about the study, please contact the researcher, Andrea Lambell, at


Durham University Covid-19 Response Fund

Expiry date: 1 November 2020

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262