• shift report;
  • schema theory;
  • nursing knowledge;
  • information processing;
  • experimental methods

Examining the effects that manipulating information given in the change of shift report has on nurses’ care planning ability

Aim of the study. To investigate the effect that manipulating the style and content of the nurse change of shift report had on an individual’s ability to plan patient care.

Background. The nurse change of shift report occurs on most hospital wards at least two if not three times a day. However, little research exists examining how changing the style and information content of the shift report may affect an individual’s ability to process the information they hear. It is suggested that how individuals structure their knowledge, in the form of schema, is an important consideration when examining how they process information.

Design. This was an experimental study where two independent variables, report style (retrospective vs. prospective) and schema information (schema consistent vs. schema inconsistent) were compared in a factorial design. A convenience sample of 48 registered nurses from acute medical and acute surgical wards were randomly allocated to one of the four experimental conditions. Outcome measures included the amount of information that subjects accurately recorded and recalled from the shift report, together with their ability to plan patient care.

Results. Results indicated that the type of report had a significant effect on an individual’s ability to plan patient care, and type of information content on their ability to accurately record and recall the information they heard.

Conclusions. The implications of the results, both for schema theory as an explanation of nursing knowledge, and for the type of report which should be used in acute medical and acute surgical wards are discussed, together with the implications of the study for further research.