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Human-Computer Interaction Design


"Generic Handover Investigation"

Staff and funding

Principal investigator: Stephanie Wilson

Co-Investigator: Dr Julia Galliers

Research Assistant: Peter Woodward, Dr Rebecca Randall

Total funding: £494,777

Funding source: EPSRC

Duration: 3 years

Project description

GHandI is a 3 year, EPSRC-funded project that commenced in January 2007. The overall aim is to conduct a detailed investigation of clinical handover and its contribution to patient safety by developing and evaluating a generic theoretical model of handover and deriving detailed recommendations and prototypes for innovative handover support technologies.

The handover of responsibility from one individual or team to another has been shown to make a vital contribution to the safety and effectiveness of clinical work, yet current practice is highly variable: it varies from ward to ward and hospital to hospital. Handovers are often impromptu, informal and supported by ad hoc artefacts such as paper-based notes. While there have been small-scale studies of clinical handover in specific settings, including our earlier work on the ACE project, there is a lack of basic research. We will address this shortcoming with extensive field studies of handover in order to achieve a clear understanding of the 'work' that handover accomplishes; for example, there is evidence that handover contributes to patient safety by accomplishing work other than the immediate transfer of responsibility for patient care.

GHandI has 4 main objectives:

  • To develop a generic model of clinical handover from a socio-technical system perspective that will capture its many commonalities and variations.
  • To design and evaluate prototypes for innovative handover support technologies.
  • To investigate the role of simple codes and graphic languages in improving communication and reducing ambiguity in information resources used in clinical handover.
  • To investigate the nature of an effective handover and determine how this can be measured.

The modelling and design activities will be grounded in an understanding of the work obtained from the field studies in a range of very different settings, ranging from ambulance 'retrieval' services to inter-specialty transfers to shift handovers in paediatric intensive care units.

The outcomes of the research will be of direct benefit to the healthcare sector, both the field study settings and the NHS more generally, and will also be of relevance to other safety critical settings. The studies of the collaborative work of handover and the subsequent modelling activities will contribute to research in HCI and CSCW, as will the design of handover support technologies.