Evidence-based inpatient handovers: a literature review and research agenda

Philip Scott, Penny Ross, Deborah Prytherch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: The objective of this review was to address two research questions: What is evidence-based best practice for intra-hospital inpatient handovers? What areas need further research? We took a particular interest in the interpersonal skills involved in successful handover, theoretically-based approaches to implementing improvements in handovers, and whether there is sufficient data to construct an evaluation methodology.

Design: Narrative synthesis based on search of PubMed, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library.Findings: We identified 82 papers, comprising 29 implementation studies, 13 conceptual models or improvement methods, 5 subject reviews and 35 background papers. None of the studies met the normal parameters of evidence-based medicine, but this is unsurprising for a complex healthcare service intervention.

Limitations: We only reviewed papers published in English between 2000 and July 2010 that were indexed in CINAHL, Medline or the Cochrane Library or found opportunistically. We did not search any grey literature or hand-search any journals.Practical implications: The evidence is sufficient to justify widespread adoption of the guiding principles for inpatient handover best practice, provided that concurrent evaluation is also undertaken.

Originality/value: This is the first comprehensive review published in the peer-reviewed literature that examines the evidence base for the practice of inpatient handovers across healthcare professions and specialties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-27
JournalClinical Governance: An International Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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