The transition from acute care to home: a review of issues in discharge teaching and a framework for better practice

Can J Cardiovasc Nurs. Summer 2013;23(3):18-24.


Patients are often sent home with complex discharge plans that can become overwhelming and difficult to follow. By contrast, implementing effective teaching at the time of discharge can lead to a decrease in the rate of hospital readmissions and mortality for patients post discharge (Koelling, Johnson, Cody, & Aaronson, 2005). Unfortunately, many of the discharge teaching practices and programs used in health care settings have been criticized as being ineffective. Ensuring that patients are prepared for the transition from hospital to home after a cardiac event will require a fundamental shift in how teaching is performed in acute care settings. In this paper, the authors identify and examine models and concepts relevant to improving the process of providing discharge education in acute care settings. This includes attention to adult education, self-management and patient-centred care. A practical framework was developed: Important Elements of Effective Discharge Teaching. This framework can be used by frontline staff to initiate realistic practice change and promote the use of evidence-based strategies related to discharge teaching in acute care settings. The Important Elements of Effective Discharge Teaching framework provides health care practitioners with a tool to evaluate and reflect on their current professional practice and provides examples of teaching strategies that are based on best evidence. Nurses can incorporate elements of this framework while providing health teaching to patients after a cardiac event.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Nursing / education*
  • Female
  • Home Care Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Care Planning*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Education as Topic*