Nurses' shift reports: a systematic literature search and critical review of qualitative field studies

Niels Buus, Bente Hoeck, Bridget Elizabeth Hamilton

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To identify reporting practices that feature in studies of nurses' shift reports across diverse nursing specialities. The objectives were to perform an exhaustive systematic literature search and to critically review the quality and findings of qualitative field studies of nurses' shift reports.

BACKGROUND: Nurses' shift reports are routine occurrences in healthcare organisations that are viewed as crucial for patient outcomes, patient safety and continuity of care. Studies of communication between nurses attend primarily to 1:1 communication and analyse the adequacy and accuracy of patient information and feature handovers at the bedside. Still, verbal reports between groups of nurses about patients are commonplace. Shift reports are obvious sites for studying the situated accomplishment of professional nursing at the group level. This review is focused exclusively on qualitative field research for nuanced and contextualised insights into nurses' everyday shift reporting practices.

DESIGN: The study is a systematic literature search and critical review of qualitative field analyses of nurses' shift reports. We searched in the databases CIHAHL, PubMed and PsycINFO and identified and reviewed 19 articles published 1992-2014. Data were systematically extracted using criteria for the evaluation of qualitative research reports.

RESULTS: The studies described shift report practices and identified several factors contributing to distribution of clinical knowledge. Shift report practices were described as highly conventionalised and locally situated, but with occasional opportunities for improvisation and negotiation between nurses. Finally, shift reports were described as multifunctional meetings, with individual and social effects for nurses and teams.

CONCLUSION: Innovations in between-shift communications can benefit from this analysis, by providing for the many functions of handovers that are revealed in field studies.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Leaders and practising nurses may consider what are the best opportunities for nurses to work up clinical knowledge and negotiate care.

TidsskriftJournal of Clinical Nursing
Udgave nummer19-20
Sider (fra-til)2891-2906
StatusUdgivet - 2017


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