Systematic review of handoff mnemonics literature

Am J Med Qual. 2009 May-Jun;24(3):196-204. doi: 10.1177/1062860609332512. Epub 2009 Mar 5.


A systematic review of published English-language articles on handoffs is conducted (1987 to June 4, 2008). Forty-six articles describing 24 handoff mnemonics are identified by trained reviewers. The majority (82.6%) have been published in the last 3 years (2006-2008), and SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) is the most frequently cited mnemonic (69.6%). Of 7 handoff research articles, only 4 study mnemonics. All 4 of these studies have relatively small sample sizes (10-100) and lack validated instruments. Only 1 study has obtained IRB approval. Scientifically rigorous research studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of handoff mnemonics. These should be published in the peer-reviewed literature using the Standards for QUality Improvement Reporting Excellence (SQUIRE) guidelines.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Communication*
  • Hospital Administration
  • Humans
  • Patient Transfer / organization & administration*
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration*