An observational study of teamwork skills in shift handover

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Background: Clinical handover (handoff, sign out) is frequently implicated as a cause of adverse events in hospitalised patients. Complex social interactions such as handover are subject to the teamwork skills of the participants and there is increasing evidence that the quality of teamwork in handover affects outcome. Teamwork skills have been assessed in one-to-one handovers but the applicability of these measurement tools to healthcare team shift handovers remains unproven. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of measurement of teamwork skills in shift handover and the applicability of adapted teamwork skills rating scales to a shift handover environment. Methods: Morning surgical shift handovers were assessed for completeness of information transfer, duration, interruptions and handover attendance. Handover teamwork skills were evaluated using two validated rating scales, adapted from one-to-one handovers and intra-operative teamwork skill measurement. Results: 50 handovers, including 306 patients were observed. Communication checklist completion was 97% but the quality of teamwork skills varied widely between handovers. There was very good concurrent validity between the two teamwork skill rating scales (Spearman's rho = 0.67, p < 0.001). There was no significant correlation between content completion, duration, interruptions or attendance and teamwork skill ratings. Conclusions: Teamwork skills vary widely between handovers and can be consistently scored using both rating scales. It is feasible to use adapted teamwork skill rating scales in shift handover and they appear to measure different constructs to traditional handover measures such as interruptions and communication checklist completion. The assessment of teamwork skills is a necessary complement to the assessment of completeness of information transfer when evaluating the overall quality of handover. © 2012 Surgical Associates Ltd.




Symons, N. R. A., Wong, H. W. L., Manser, T., Sevdalis, N., Vincent, C. A., & Moorthy, K. (2012). An observational study of teamwork skills in shift handover. International Journal of Surgery, 10(7), 355–359.

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