Send to

Choose Destination
Collegian. 2001 Jul;8(3):14-8.

Challenging the handover ritual. Recommendations for research and practice.

Author information

School of Nursing, Deakin University.


Communicating nursing care during the patient's total hospital stay is a difficult task to achieve within the context of high patient turnover, a lack of overlap time between shifts, and time constraints. Clear and accurate communication is pivotal to delivering high quality care and should be the gold standard in any clinical setting. Handover is a commonly used communication medium that requires review and critique. This study was conducted in five acute care settings at a major teaching hospital. Using a grounded theory approach, it explored the use of three types of handover techniques (verbal in the office, tape-recorded, and bedside handovers). Data were obtained from semistructured interviews with nurses and participant field observations. Textual data were managed using NUD*IST. Transcripts were critically reviewed and major themes identified from the three types of handovers that illustrated their strengths and weaknesses. The findings of this study revealed that handover is more than just a forum for communicating patient care. It is also used as a place where nurses can debrief, clarify information and update knowledge. Overall, each type of handover had particular strengths and limitations; however, no one type of handover was appraised as being more effective. Achieving the multiple goals of handover presents researchers and clinicians with a challenging task. It is necessary to explore more creative ways of conducting the handover of patient care, so that an important aspect of nursing practice does not get classified as just another ritual.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center