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Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) and Emergency Medicine Residents' Learning of Case Presentation Skills. J Grad Med Educ 2012 Sep;4(3):370-3



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BACKGROUND: To date, no standardized presentation format is taught to emergency medicine (EM) residents during patient handoffs to consulting or admitting physicians. The Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) is a common format that provides a consistent framework to communicate pertinent information.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe and evaluate the feasibility of using SBAR to teach interphysician communication skills to first-year EM residents to use during patient handoffs.

METHODS: An educational study was designed as part of a pilot curriculum to teach first-year EM residents handoff communication skills. A standardized SBAR reporting format was taught during a 1-hour didactic intervention. All residents were evaluated using pretest/posttest simulated cases using a 17-item SBAR checklist initially, and then within 4 months to assess retention of the tool. A survey was distributed to determine resident perceptions of the training and potential clinical utility.

RESULTS: There was a statistically significant improvement from the resident scores on the pretest/posttest of the first case (P  =  .001), but there was no difference between posttest of the first case and pretest of the second case (P  =  .34), suggesting retention of the material. There was a statistically significant improvement from the pretest and posttest scores on the second case (P  =  .001). The survey yielded good reliability for both sessions (Cronbach alpha  =  0.87 and 0.89, respectively), demonstrating statistically significant increases for the perceived quality of training, presentation comfort level, and the use of SBAR (P  =  .001).

CONCLUSION: SBAR was acceptable to first-year EM residents, with improvements in both the ability to apply SBAR to simulated case presentations and retention at a follow-up session. This format was feasible to use as a training method and was well received by our resident physicians. Future research will be useful in examining the general applicability of the SBAR model for interphysician communications in the clinical environment and residency training programs.

Author List

Tews MC, Liu JM, Treat R


Jason M. Liu MD Professor in the Emergency Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Robert W. Treat PhD Associate Professor in the Academic Affairs department at Medical College of Wisconsin