Barriers to information exchange during older patients' transfer: nurses' experiences

J Clin Nurs. 2013 Oct;22(19-20):2964-73. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12246. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


Aims and objectives: To describe nurses' experiences of barriers that influence their information exchange during the transfer of older patients between hospital and home care.

Background: The successful transfer of an older patient across health organisations requires good communication and coordination between providers. Despite an increased focus on the need for cooperation among providers across healthcare organisations, researchers still report problems in the exchange of information between the hospitals and the healthcare systems in the municipalities.

Design: A qualitative study using focus group methodology.

Methods: Three focus group interviews using topic guides were conducted and interpreted. The study included registered nurses (n = 14) from hospital and home care. The data were analysed through content analysis.

Results: Three main themes were identified: barriers associated with the nurse, barriers associated with interpersonal processes and barriers associated with the organisation. These themes included several subthemes.

Conclusions: The findings highlight the challenges that nurses encounter in ensuring a successful information exchange during older patients' transfer through the healthcare system. The barriers negatively influence the nurses' information exchange and may put the patients in a vulnerable and exposed situation. In order for nurses to conduct a successful exchange of information, it is critical that hospital and home care systems facilitate this through adequate resources, clear missions and responsibilities, and understandable policies.

Relevance to clinical practice: Recognition of the barriers that affect nurses' exchange of information is important to ensure patient safety and successful transitions. The barriers described here should help both nurses in practice and their leaders to be more attentive to the prerequisites needed to achieve a satisfactory nursing information exchange and enhance informational continuity.

Keywords: content analysis; home care nurses; hospital nurses; information exchange; older people; patient transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff*
  • Patient Transfer*
  • Qualitative Research