Communication Behaviors Associated with the Competent Nursing Handoff

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11 Scopus citations


Miscommunication between caregivers during a patient handoff—when the responsibility for a patient's care transfers from one caregiver to another—contributes to an estimated 80% of serious errors in patient care. Since 2006, health-care organizations accredited by The Joint Commission have been required to standardize the handoff process to reduce communication errors. This quantitative study identified specific communication behaviors associated with a communicatively competent patient handoff at nursing shift change. Data were collected from 286 nurses responding to an online survey posted at Results of the multivariate analysis suggested that the best nursing handoffs were those in which both the incoming and the outgoing nurses made frequent use of information exchange (information giving, seeking, and verifying) and socioemotional communication behaviors. These findings provide a foundation for future research into development of communication-based standardized patient handoff processes and training to prevent patient care errors through improved communication competency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-314
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 National Communication Association.


  • Communication Competence
  • Handoff Communication
  • Medical Communication Competence
  • Nurse Shift Report
  • Transfer of Responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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