Nursing handover: it's time for a change

Contemp Nurse. 2008 Aug;30(1):2-11. doi: 10.5172/conu.673.30.1.2.


Nursing handover is a common part of nursing practice that is fundamental to safe patient care. Despite this, the literature provides little direction on the best way to conduct handover. This project aimed to examine nurses' perceptions of handover and to determine the strengths and imitations of the handover process. A staff survey was distributed to nurses in all inpatient wards at a metropolitan tertiary hospital. A total of 176 nurses responded to the staff survey. The findings revealed conflicting opinions about the effectiveness of the handover process; although a number of nurses were positive about current handover practice, indicating they were provided with sufficient information about patients and given opportunity to clarify patient care information, other nurses identified aspects of handover that could be improved. These included: the subjectivity of handover information, the time taken to conduct handover, repetition of information that could be found in the patients' care plans, and handing over of information by a nurse who has not cared for the patient. Some attention needs to be given to addressing the perceived weaknesses associated with the handover process.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Communication*
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Nursing Records
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*