Exploring the State of the Science of the Nursing Hand-off Communication

Benjamin J. Galatzan, Jane M. Carrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Miscommunication that occurs during the exchange of information between healthcare providers accounts for approximately 80% of adverse events in the healthcare setting. Nurses devote 10% to 15% of the workday to the nurse-to-nurse hand-off communication. The hand-off itself has remained virtually unchanged for the past 20 years, although the process is prone to errors. The introduction of the electronic health record and mandates to decrease errors and improve patient outcomes has led to an influx of research on the nurse-to-nurse hand-off communication. This article provides a comprehensive synopsis of the hand-off and the state of science on nurse-to-nurse communication using hand-offs. In general, the use and implementation of standardized tools and the nurse's perception of and satisfaction with the hand-off communication have been researched extensively. A standardized hand-off tool increases nurse satisfaction with the structure and consistency of the hand-off. While electronic health record-related forms and devices are not utilized by nurses, communication patterns and communication behaviors can also influence the effectiveness of the hand-off message. The areas of memory, cognition, and content of the hand-off affect the transfer and recall of hand-off information. Continued research on hand-off communication is essential to ensure patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-493
Number of pages10
JournalCIN - Computers Informatics Nursing
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Communication
  • Handoff
  • Handover
  • Nursing
  • Standardized tool
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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