SBAR (Situation; Background; Assessment; Recommendation)


SBAR (Situation; Background; Assessment; Recommendation)


Contact information: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, UK

Lynne Caley,

Originally developed by: IHI (US) and
NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement (UK)
Country of origin: US
Year of development: Approximately 2005
Last updated: No information available
Next update: No information available
Available in the following languages: English

Type of tool: tool for reminding staff in the workplace

Short description

SBAR is an easy to remember mechanism that you can use to frame conversations, especially critical ones, requiring a clinician’s immediate attention and action. It enables you to clarify what information should be communicated between members of the team, and how. It can also help you to develop teamwork and foster a culture of patient safety.

The tool consists of standardised prompt questions within four sections, to ensure that staff are sharing concise and focused information. It allows staff to communicate assertively and effectively, reducing the need for repetition.

Target audience

The tool is to be used  by

  • clinicians during handover situations
  • urgent or non urgent communications
  • conversations with a physician, either in person or over the phone
  • Particularly useful in nurse to doctor communications
  • also helpful in doctor to doctor consultation
  • discussions with allied health professionals
    – Respiratory therapy
    – Physiotherapy
  • conversations with peers
    – change of shift reports
  • escalating a concern.
Applicability (setting e.g. inpatient care, outpatient care, long term care etc.)

Inpatient or outpatient care

Information on how the tool has been applied/tested in practice

Originally used in the military and aviation industries, SBAR was developed for healthcare by Dr M Leonard and colleagues from Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, USA. In one healthcare setting, the incidence of harm to patients fell by 50 per cent after implementing SBAR.

Needed resources (financial, material, human)

Some training in the use and benefits of the tool is required – this should take no more than 30 minutes.

Needed time for implementation

Introduction and training: 30 minutes;
Using the tool: short; Conversation: 15 minutes approximately

Strengths and limitations

The tool helps staff anticipate the information needed by colleagues and encourages assessment skills. Using SBAR prompts staff to formulate information with the right level of detail.