Communicating Data, Information, and Knowledge in the Nursing Handoff

Benjamin J. Galatzan, Jane M. Carrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Miscommunication occurring during the nursing handoff continues to be a primary cause of sentinel events and adverse patient outcomes. The primary purpose of the nursing handoff is to communicate essential patient data, information, and knowledge to ensure the safe continued continuity of care. The aim of this study was to examine the content of the nurse-to-nurse change-of-shift handoff communication in terms of data, information, and knowledge for both bedside and nonbedside handoffs of a patient who has experienced a clinical event. The setting was an urban medical center on a medical-surgical floor. The sample consisted of one nurse giving and one nurse receiving the handoff (n = 19 registered nurses). Five bedside and five nonbedside handoffs were audio recorded and analyzed using content analysis. The handoff overall contained 34.7% data, 51.7% information, and 13.6% knowledge. The nonbedside handoff compared with the bedside handoff contained a substantially higher percentage of data and less information. The percentage of knowledge being communicated in both the nonbedside and bedside handoff was low at 13.6% and 13.7%, respectively. The percentage of data compared with the percentage of knowledge in the handoff places the nurses at greater risk of experiencing cognitive lapses due to cognitive overload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalCIN - Computers Informatics Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive overload
  • Communication
  • Handoff
  • Informatics
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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