Patient and healthcare provider knowledge, attitudes and barriers to handover and healthcare communication during chronic disease inpatient care in India: a qualitative exploratory study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Claire Humphries
  • Suganthi Jaganathan
  • Panniyammakal Jeemon
  • Sanjeev Singh
  • Shifalika Goenka
  • Prabhakaran Dorairaj

Colleges, School and Institutes


Objectives 1) To investigate patient and healthcare provider (HCP) knowledge, attitudes and barriers to handover and healthcare communication during inpatient care. 2) To explore potential interventions for improving the storage and transfer of healthcare information.

Design Qualitative study comprising 41 semi-structured, individual interviews and a thematic analysis using the Framework Method with analyst triangulation.

Setting Three public hospitals in Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, India.

Participants Participants included 20 male (n=10) and female (n=10) patients with chronic non-communicable disease (NCD) and 21 male (n=15) and female (n=6) HCPs. Purposive sampling was used to identify patients with chronic NCDs (cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or hypertension) and HCPs.

Results Patient themes were (1) public healthcare service characteristics, (2) HCP to patient communication and (3) attitudes regarding medical information. HCP themes were (1) system factors, (2) information exchange practices and (3) quality improvement strategies. Both patients and HCPs recognised public healthcare constraints that increased pressure on hospitals and subsequently limited consultation times. Systemic issues reported by HCPs were a lack of formal handover systems, training and accessible hospital-based records. Healthcare management communication during admission was inconsistent and lacked patient-centredness, evidenced by varying reports of patient information received and some dissatisfaction with lifestyle advice. HCPs reported that the duty of writing discharge notes was passed from senior doctors to interns or nurses during busy periods. A nurse reported providing predominantly verbal discharge instructions to patients. Patient-held medical documents facilitated information exchange between HCPs, but doctors reported that they were not always transported. HCPs and patients expressed positive views towards the idea of introducing patient-held booklets to improve the organisation and transfer of medical documents.

Conclusions Handover and healthcare communication during chronic NCD inpatient care is currently suboptimal. Structured information exchange systems and HCP training are required to improve continuity and safety of care during critical transitions such as referral and discharge. Our findings suggest that patient-held booklets may also assist in enhancing handover and patient-centred practices.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere028199
JournalBMJ open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019


  • international health services, quality in health care, public health, qualitative research