Understanding best practice within nurse intershift handover: what suits palliative care?

Kerry Messam, Annie Pettifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following identification of the limitation of nurse intershift handover within a specialist palliative care unit, a review of the research literature is undertaken. The aim is to identify and appraise what is known about best practice within nurse intershift handover and evaluate the implications for practice within a specialist palliative care inpatient unit. The retrieval of literature identified 19 pertinent research papers which were critically analyzed. Three main themes emerged within the literature: purpose; type; and content of handover. Only two studies had been carried out within a generalist palliative care context; however, five sub-categories emerged that may be significant in meeting the demands of specialist palliative nursing. These were: clinical decision-making; staff support; maintaining confidentiality while handling sensitive information; patient involvement; and type of information exchange. All themes are presented within this article. The literature review suggests that traditional verbal nursing handover may be the most advantageous handover method within inpatient specialist palliative care, though attention to structure and focus is vital.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-196
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


  • decision making
  • hospice nursing
  • palliative nursing
  • shift reports


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