'Being in the know': Nurses' perspectives on the role of 'end-of-shift' verbal handover

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Aim: To explore and qualitatively review 'end-of-shift' verbal communication practices and processes; and to further develop a core theoretical construction of nurses' perspectives on handover in contemporary Australian clinical settings.

Method: The following study will report the results from phase 1 of a two-phase study examining the Australian nurse's perspective of verbal handover. The data were gathered over a 2-month period in 2013 for phase 1 of the study. Phase 1 of the research was undertaken using Strauss and Corbin's Grounded Theory methodology, to explore the perceptions of verbal handover by acute care nurses. The participants included 41 registered nurses purposively sampled from acute care surgical and medical backgrounds in a metropolitan hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Data were collected using intensive interviewing techniques in six focus groups with an average of seven members in each group. The data were then coded and analyzed concurrently allowing the categorization of core concepts.

Results: Communication proved to be the underlying core concept with linked themes such as mode of handover, relevance of information, professional roles of nursing, duty of care, timeliness and scope of practice.

Conclusion: Communication during handover time must be tailored to support the oncoming nurse in preparing for the shift ahead. To do this effectively, information shared must be relevant and fashioned in such a way that the oncoming nurse can prioritize patient care needs while ensuring adherence to their scope of practice. This Grounded Theory has helped toward the reconceptualization of verbal handover, one that attempts to enhance current end-of-shift communication practices and processes, thereby optimizing clinical outcomes.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare