The SBAR ('situation, background, assessment and recommendation') is a tool which was adapted from the United States military for use in healthcare by Leonard et al (2004). The tool is designed to be a structured form of communication to allow for sharing of concise and focused information. SBAR is comprised of four prompts, allowing healthcare professionals to communicate effectively and assertively with the aim of reducing the likelihood of error or repetition, with the right level of detail communicated. This tool can be used in any setting – from inpatients to outpatients, to routine to emergency scenarios, in person or over the telephone.
SBAR ensures that both the giver and receiver of information have the same expectations of how the information is going to be communicated, and is particularly effective when communicating across different levels of staff or specialties. It can empower those who may feel unconfident or less experienced than a senior colleague to make a recommendation, and prevents the unreliable ‘hint and hope’ that the receiver understands what you are trying to convey.
Remember that once you have used the SBAR tool, ask the receiver to repeat any key information to ensure their understanding.