COVID-19: For evidence-based advice about difficult conversations read or download our latest Real Talk resources


The Real Talk team can be contacted via email

What is Real Talk?

Real Talk is a new, evidence-based initiative comprising Resources, Events and Consultancy based on authentic recordings of real-life healthcare, and robust scientific evidence about healthcare communication.

What are the Real Talk Resources?

Real Talk Resources are a set of novel, flexible resources providing facilitators/trainers with authentic and evidence-based teaching and learning materials.
‘Real Talk’ comprises resources for teaching and modelling interpersonal communication for healthcare. Its main focus is on conversations about the end of life, and planning in advance for it. It is designed for use in face-to-face training events with health and social care staff and trainees.  Whilst coronavirus-related social distancing requirements are in place, Real Talk resources can be used in video-based training where this is streamed live and led by a registered Real Talk training facilitator. Any event where live streaming of the video clips takes place must NOT be recorded.
Real Talk features clips from real-life video recordings of conversations recorded in the outpatient, inpatient and day therapy services of a UK Hospice. Staff, patients, and their relatives and carers are visible in these clips, any personal and place names have however been removed from the soundtrack. Resources for UK based facilitators/trainers include these original video clips.   Anonymised versions of the original Real Talk clips have been produced for registered trainers outside the UK. Acted versions are currently in production and will be used in future Real Talk training events and consultancy.
Real Talk’s other core feature comprises learning points designed to support trainers/facilitators to incorporate evidence from up-to-date and robust research on language and interaction.  Specifically, the learning points are based on analysis of recorded real life interactions using conversation analysis – which is the gold standard research method in this field.  Real Talk resources are designed to offer alternatives to invented scenarios and indirect evidence about communication (indirect evidence means things like expert opinion, and people’s opinions and recall about communication).
Real Talk resources are divided into modules. Each module focuses on a particular healthcare communication task. Each module features a series of individual case studies. Each case study is based on one real life consultation. A synopsis provides background to the case; a summary of the entire consultation (since the clips only cover short excerpts from the consultation); a verbatim transcript of each video clip, and tailored learning points for facilitators to use. All learning points are based on evidence from conversation analytic research.
Real Talk is designed to complement and enhance existing forms of training, rather than to replace these.
Real Talk Resources are available free of charge to eligible, registered UK facilitators/trainers
Real Talk resources are available free of charge to registered professionals and trainers working in the NHS, organisations that work with the NHS (e.g. hospices), and higher education institutions. Registration is obligatory for access to the original Real Talk video clips because they are recordings of consultations in which real patients, relatives and doctors are recognisable. Registered facilitators/trainers are required to agree to a series of measures to safeguard the video clips and the people within them. 
All participants in the video clips consented to being recorded, and for recordings in which they are recognisable to be used for the purposes of preparing and delivering face-to-face training in the UK.
The conditions of our research funding and its oversight mean that we cannot allow access to the original video clips to ‘for profit’ organisations.
Registration is granted via the Real Talk team at Loughborough University. Applications can be made via the online form on our website, or by emailing

Who can access the Real Talk video Resources?

The original Real Talk video clips are password-protected and are available free of charge to eligible trainers in the UK who have registered with us. These include professionals and trainers working in the NHS, organisations that work with the NHS (e.g. hospices), and higher education institutions.
Trainers may only access the original video clips resources for the purposes of preparing and delivering face-to-face training in the UK.
If you work outside the NHS, you may be able to access Real Talk content if you provide training for health or social care staff, trainees and/or volunteers on a not for profit basis.
If you work for a ‘for profit’ organisation, e.g. an education consultancy, you may only access the information available on this open access website
When you apply, we will request information regarding your current role and training responsibilities in order to determine whether we can grant you access.
For more information regarding eligibility for access please email the Real Talk team
Anonymised Real Talk video clips have been produced for facilitators/trainers outside the UK who provide not-for-profit training to health and care sector staff and trainees. Please email the Real Talk team for further information  

Can Real Talk be used in training occupational groups other than doctors?

Absolutely. The resources are suitable for use in training any health or social care staff whose role may involve having conversations about the end of life and about planning for it. We know from our current registered users that although current Real Talk video clips are all from doctor/patient consultations, they have been found useful in events for various health and social care occupational groups. This is in part because the evidence-based learning points focus on communication practices that are important in many healthcare conversations, for instance: asking questions, using eye gaze and gesture, using tone of voice, active listening, and helping people to engage in talk about topics that people often find distressing.  Real Talk has been used, and found to be engaging, within training for student doctors and nurses, hospice volunteers, allied health professionals, paramedics, senior care home teams, and clinicians in the prison service. 

Do I need to be a trained communication skills trainer to use the Real Talk Resources?

No, you do not need to have any formal communication skills qualifications. We have found that experienced clinicians and trainers are able to work confidently with the Real Talk video clips and resources.

Do I need to complete any prior training to be able to use the Real Talk Resources?

It is not necessary to attend any formal training in order to work with the video clips or the accompanying resources. However, some prior preparation is essential. We would encourage you to take time to review the resources beforehand and to become familiar with the transcripts and learning points.
We have provided guidance in the training manual for facilitators to help assist in preparing to use the resources.
Our evaluations have shown that whilst trainers find the Real Talk resources can be used off the shelf, without prior training, those who participate in ‘train the trainer’ events find they are then able use the materials more extensively. We provide bespoke ‘train the trainer’ sessions for organisations on a negotiated fee basis. Please contact the Real Talk team for more information

What do the Real Talk Resources contain?

Real Talk is divided into modules.  Each module focuses on a particular healthcare communication task or topic and on the available research evidence about how to address this in effective and sensitive ways. Each module comprises a series of cases, and each of these cases is based upon a consultation, with the consent of all the participants, was recorded by the VERDIS research team for the purposes of communication research and training.
For each featured case study, we provide:
One or more video clips from the real case. In these, only person and place names are blanked out, the participants are clearly visible, so that fine details such as gestures, facial expression, tone of voice, gaze and so on can be seen and considered within teaching and learning. For each clip there is one subtitled and one non-subtitled version.
A case synopsis. This lists keywords to help trainers select suitable cases according to the type and topics of the training they are providing. It also provides background details about the people shown in the recording and provides an overview of the consultation. The synopsis provides a wider context for the individual video clips, which inevitably comprise fairly short snippets or episodes from a longer consultation.
A CARE questionnaire rating – this is the patient’s rating of the consultation, which they completed at least a day, and usually several days or weeks after the consultation, on the standardised CARE rating of the clinician’s communicative care and relational empathy.
Verbatim transcripts of video clips that can be printed out for use in training, shown via overhead projection, etc.
A set of teaching and learning points that draw specifically on the conversation analytic approach to analysing communication and producing robust knowledge about it.  The VERDIS programme entails a series of conversation analytic studies. Conversation analysis is increasingly recognised as the gold standard for researching interpersonal interaction. It focuses on what is visible and audible in (recorded) interactions, and on what people do, attempt, and accomplish through their communicative actions. Because of this, it is able to provide more detailed and robust knowledge about communication than can interviewing people about their communication, or coding communication using a predesigned framework.
We have designed Real Talk so that facilitators/trainers do not need any training in conversation analysis in order to use the resources.
A bibliography listing some introductory readings on conversation analysis and key papers on conversation analytic research relating to palliative care communication. Electronic links to publications are provided where possible.
Also, our In a Nutshell pages provide short, accessible versions of the formal scientific publications that underpin Real Talk.

Do I have to follow a particular teaching plan or curriculum to use Real Talk Resources?

No. We have designed Real Talk to be suitable for incorporating into an existing programme or into new programme development. You are free to decide on the group size, session length, number of facilitators, etc, appropriate for your session.  Our hope is that we enable you to enhance your training as a result of the authentic and engaging video materials, and of the research-based information and knowledge about interpersonal communication.
We can offer support on lesson plans based on our prior experience and on the feedback we gather from our registered facilitators/trainers across the UK. Please contact the Real Talk team for further information

Can I link up with other practitioners in my organisation, locality or speciality who are using Real Talk?

Yes – we actively encourage this. There are already groups of facilitators around the UK and we aim to build up networks and communities of practice amongst our registered users. The ‘Blog’ section on the website includes some examples of how Real Talk resources have been used.
Please email the Real Talk team on if you would like information regarding registered Real Talk users in your area

Does Real Talk link to published evidence?

Yes. The evidence base continues to grow as we continue to conduct research and publish our findings. There is a range of published papers listed on the Real Talk website, with electronic links provided where possible, along with links to short summarires of these papers

The particular communication practices that can be taught via Real Talk resources are ones that have been found by conversation analytic research to be effective, sensitive, and used by experienced practitioners and service users.  In designing Real Talk, we have also drawn on research evidence about what features of training are most likely to be transferred into real life practice.

A comprehensive list of the VERDIS and Real Talk programme’s publications can be found on Ruth’s Loughborough staff page.