The information content of the nurse change of shift report: a comparative study
This study examines the role which the nursing change of shift report may have in aiding nurses to process information and plan care. It also aims to identify whether any of the information found in the shift report can be considered as ‘forceful feature’ information, the key features of a situation which allow an individual to access appropriate knowledge within their long-term memory store. The content of the medical notes, nursing documentation and shift reports for a total of 60 patients, selected from two acute medical and two acute surgical wards across two National Health Service Hospital Trusts in south-east England were subjected to content analysis. The types and amount of information contained in each source were examined, along with the order of information given in the shift reports. A multidimensional scalogram analysis (MSA) was also carried out on the data to examine the patterns of information content across sources. In general, more information was recorded in the patients’ notes than communicated during the shift report. However, both the frequency data and the MSA plots indicated that particular types of information (identified here as global judgements) were often communicated in the shift report but not recorded in the patient notes. The results suggest that there is evidence that the change of shift report contains ‘forceful feature’ information. The presence of such ‘forceful features’ may facilitate the processing of patient information during the shift report communication, leading to more efficient care planning.