OR to ICU handoff: Theory of change model for sustainable change in behavior

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health; Surgery; Cardiothoracic Surgery


Background: Handoff in cardiac intensive care units has been associated with improved outcomes. We aimed to determine whether a standardized protocol for handover could be implemented using the “theory of change” model by education, introduction of a checklist, and developing feedback mechanisms, measured by better knowledge transfer and bedside care provider satisfaction.
Methods: A theory of change model was developed and implemented to introduce a teamwork-driven handover process. A standardized checklist was made available at every bedside. A preintervention assessment of patient handovers was obtained by direct observation using a standardized checklist. The same checklist was used for assessment after implementation. A survey was conducted to measure intensive care unit staff perception and satisfaction with the handover process.
Results: After implementation, the standardized handover process was employed in 53 of 60 patient transfers (88.3% compliance): 49 preintervention and 29 postintervention observations were performed. Postimplementation, critical knowledge omissions (total score of 25) decreased from a median of 10 (range 4–17) to 0 (range 0–4; p < 0.001). At 6 months, knowledge omission scores improved to a median of 0 (range 0–1; p < 0.001); and 96% (24/25) of staff reported improvement in the quality of information transfer, and 100% reported improvement in overall team work.
Conclusion: Implementation of a standardized patient handover process improved the quality of knowledge transfer and overall staff satisfaction. The theory of change model is a unique and highly effective tool to implement and sustain behavior change.


Asian Cardiovascular and Thoracic Annals