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SBAR: A Comprehensive Guide for Effective Nursing Communication

This article was written in collaboration with Christine T. and ChatGPT, our little helper developed by OpenAI.

SBAR: A Comprehensive Guide for Effective Nursing Communication


SBAR is an acronym for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. It is a standardized communication framework used in healthcare settings, particularly by nurses, to facilitate clear, concise, and accurate information exchange between team members. This structured method ensures that all relevant patient information is communicated in a consistent and organized manner, promoting patient safety and enhancing the overall quality of care.

Related Terms

  • Handoff Communication: The process of transferring patient care and information from one healthcare provider to another during shift changes, patient transfers, or consultations.
  • ISBAR: An extension of SBAR, which includes the additional step of identifying oneself and the patient.
  • CUS: An acronym for Concerned, Uncomfortable, and Safety issue, used to assertively express concerns about patient safety during communication.

Synonyms, Definitions, and Examples

Synonym Definition Example
SBAR Communication Refers to the use of the SBAR framework to communicate patient information in a structured manner. A nurse uses SBAR to provide a report to a physician about a patient’s worsening condition.
SBAR Report A report given by a healthcare provider using the SBAR framework. A nurse gives an SBAR report during a shift change, ensuring continuity of care for the patient.
SBAR Tool A tool or template designed to guide healthcare providers in using the SBAR framework for communication. A hospital implements an SBAR tool to improve communication among staff and reduce the risk of errors.

Assessment Techniques and Tools

The effectiveness of SBAR communication can be assessed using various techniques and tools, such as:

  • Observation of real-time communication during clinical practice or simulation exercises.
  • Audits of written or electronic communication, such as handoff reports, progress notes, or care plans.
  • Feedback from team members, patients, and families regarding the clarity and accuracy of communication.
  • Assessment of patient outcomes and safety incidents, which can be linked to the quality of communication.

Assessment Frameworks

Assessment frameworks, such as the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals or the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Model for Improvement, can help guide the evaluation and improvement of SBAR communication in healthcare organizations. These frameworks emphasize the importance of effective communication for patient safety and provide recommendations for implementing and assessing communication strategies.

Assessment Documentation

Documenting the assessment of SBAR communication is essential for tracking progress and identifying areas for improvement. Documentation may include:

  • Records of observed communication during clinical practice or simulation exercises, noting strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Audit findings of written or electronic communication.
  • Feedback from team members, patients, and families.
  • Data on patient outcomes and safety incidents related to communication.
  • Plans for ongoing monitoring, improvement, and reassessment of SBAR communication.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Effective communication is a vital aspect of providing safe, high-quality healthcare. As such, healthcare professionals have an ethical responsibility to ensure that their communication is clear, accurate, and timely. The use of standardized communication frameworks like SBAR can help meet these obligations, reducing the risk of errors, misunderstandings, and potential legal consequences. Furthermore, organizations should ensure that they are compliant with relevant laws and regulations governing patient privacy and confidentiality when implementing and assessing SBAR communication.

Real-Life Examples or Case Studies

Many healthcare organizations have successfully implemented SBAR to improve communication, patient safety, and clinical outcomes. Examples include:

  • A large hospital system that implemented SBAR communication, resulting in a 50% reduction in adverse events and a 30% decrease in sentinel events.
  • A long-term care facility that used SBAR to improve communication between nurses and physicians, leading to a decrease in unnecessary hospital transfers.
  • A home healthcare agency that introduced SBAR for interprofessional communication, resulting in more effective care coordination and improved patient satisfaction.

Resources and References


SBAR is a widely recognized and effective communication framework used in healthcare settings to ensure clear, concise, and accurate information exchange between team members. By using SBAR, healthcare professionals can promote patient safety, enhance the quality of care, and fulfill their legal and ethical obligations. Implementing and assessing SBAR communication in your organization can lead to significant improvements in communication and overall patient outcomes.