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Using the ISBAR handover tool in junior medical officer handover: a study in an Australian tertiary hospital
  1. James E Thompson,
  2. Luke W Collett,
  3. Marc J Langbart,
  4. Natalie J Purcell,
  5. Stephanie M Boyd,
  6. Yuigi Yuminaga,
  7. Gemma Ossolinski,
  8. Clarissa Susanto,
  9. Ann McCormack
  1. Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Natalie Purcell, 34 Pearl Bay Ave, Beauty Point, NSW 2088, Australia; npur6572{at}


Background Despite being essential to patient care, current clinical handover practices are inconsistent and error prone. Efforts to improve handover have attracted attention recently, with the ISBAR tool increasingly utilised as a format for structured handover communication. However, ISBAR has not been validated in a junior medical officer setting.

Objective To assess the effect of the ISBAR handover tool on junior medical officer (JMO) handover communication in an Australian hospital.

Methods JMOs who participated in after-hours handover during an 11 week clinical term from June to August 2009 were recruited. After-hours handover was audiotaped, and JMOs completed a survey to assess current handover perception and practice. JMOs then participated in a 1 h education session on handover and use of the ISBAR handover tool, and were encouraged to handover using this method. Following the education session, participants were surveyed to measure perceived changes in handover with use of ISBAR, and handover was again audiotaped to assess differences in information transfer and duration.

Results Following the introduction of ISBAR, 25/36 (71%) of JMOs felt there was an overall improvement in handover communication. Specifically, they perceived improvement in the structure and consistency of handover, they felt more confident receiving handover, and they believed patient care and safety were improved. Audio-tape data demonstrated increased transfer of key clinical information during handover with no significant effect on handover duration.

Conclusions Use of the ISBAR tool improves JMO perception of handover communication in a time neutral fashion. Consideration should be given to the introduction of ISBAR in all JMO handover settings.

  • Handover
  • hand-off
  • junior medical officer
  • education & training (see medical education & training)
  • medical education & training

Statistics from


  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Northern Sydney Central Coast Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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