Implementing SBAR across a large multihospital health system

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2012 Jun;38(6):261-8. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(12)38033-1.


Background: Communication problems among health care personnel during critical clinical situations can jeopardize patient safety. SBAR, a structured-communication technique, has been adapted from aviation and the military as a strategy for clear communication based on a statement of the situation, background, assessment, and recommendations related to a critical issue. Nurses' use of SBAR and physician perception of communication quality after SBAR implementation was assessed at a 13-hospital health care system.

Methods: Baylor Health Care System initiated a campaign to implement SBAR and train staff in SBAR techniques across its hospitals. Nurse surveys and physician audits were conducted.

Findings: Of 156 nurses interviewed, 152 (97.4%) had been educated about SBAR, and 91 (58.3%) used SBAR for critical communication. Of 84 nurses whose proficiency with SBAR was assessed, 72.6% demonstrated good or high proficiency. Of the 155 physicians who responded to the physician survey, 121 (78.1%) said that the last report they received was adequate to make clinical decisions. Of the 27 who indicated that the last report was not adequate to make clinical decisions, 25 (92.6%) had not received the report in SBAR format.

Conclusions: SBAR was generally well understood. Challenges included inconsistent uptake across facilities, lack of physician education about SBAR, and a tendency to view SBAR as a document rather than a verbal technique. Future research will address the need for refresher education with nurses after initial SBAR education, the need for formal physician education about SBAR use, and the possibility of conducting annual competency validation of the utilization of SBAR. Research should also examine the effect of SBAR on quality of care and patient outcomes in controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication*
  • Hospitals / standards
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Physician-Nurse Relations
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Texas