Effectiveness of an Adapted SBAR Communication Tool for a Rehabilitation Setting

Healthc Q. 2008;11(3 Spec No.):72-9. doi: 10.12927/hcq.2008.19653.


Effective communication and teamwork have been identified in the literature as key enablers of patient safety. The SBAR (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) process has proven to be an effective communication tool in acute care settings to structure high-urgency communications, particularly between physicians and nurses; however, little is known of its effectiveness in other settings. This study evaluated the effectiveness of an adapted SBAR tool for both urgent and non-urgent situations within a rehabilitation setting. In phase 1 of this study, clinical staff, patient and family input was gathered in a focus-group format to help guide, validate and refine adaptations to the SBAR tool. In phase 2, the adapted SBAR was implemented in one interprofessional team; clinical and support staff participated in educational workshops with experiential learning to enhance their proficiency in using the SBAR process. Key champions reinforced its use within the team. In phase 3, evaluation of the effectiveness of the adapted SBAR tool focused on three main areas: staff perceptions of team communication and patient safety culture (as measured by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture), patient satisfaction (as determined using the Client Perspectives on Rehabilitation Services questionnaire) and safety reporting (including incident and near-miss reporting). Findings from this study suggest that staff found the use of the adapted SBAR tool helpful in both individual and team communications, which ultimately affected perceived changes in the safety culture of the study team. There was a positive but not significant impact on patient satisfaction, likely due to a ceiling effect. Improvements were also seen in safety reporting of incidents and near misses across the organization and within the study team.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Rehabilitation Centers*
  • Safety Management
  • Teaching / organization & administration*
  • Total Quality Management