Nurses' Perspectives on Interprofessional Communication in the Prevention of Functional Decline in Hospitalized Older People

Health Commun. 2019 Aug;34(9):1053-1059. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2018.1455141. Epub 2018 Mar 22.


Older people present with complex health issues on admission to hospital and are at high risk for functional decline and related complications. Thus, they require the services of diverse health-care professionals working in concert to support their functioning. Despite nurses' central role in caring for this patient population, and evidence indicating that interprofessional communication is a persistent challenge for nurses in acute-care settings, little is known about nurses' views on interprofessional communication in care preserving functioning in acutely admitted older people. To fill this knowledge gap, we gathered acute-care staff nurses' perspectives on interprofessional communication in a function-focused, interprofessional approach to hospital care for older adults. Thirteen focus groups were conducted with a purposeful, criterion-based sample of 57 nurses working in acute-care hospitals. Thematic analysis revealed two overarching themes capturing nurses' perspectives on key factors shaping interprofessional communication in a function-focused interprofessional approach to care (1) context of direct communication and (2) context of indirect communication. The first theme demonstrates that nurses preferred synchronous modes of communication, but some ascribed greater importance to unstructured forms of direct information-sharing, while others stressed structured direct communication, particularly interprofessional rounds. The second theme also documents divergence in nurses' views on asynchronous communication, with some emphasizing information technology and others analog tools. Perceptions of some modes of interprofessional communication were found to vary by practice setting. Theoretical and pragmatic conclusions are drawn that can be used to optimize interprofessional communication processes supporting hospitalized older people's functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Communication*
  • Focus Groups
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Teaching Rounds