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Handover training for medical students: a controlled educational trial of a pilot curriculum in Germany
  1. Laura Thaeter1,2,
  2. Hanna Schröder1,2,
  3. Lina Henze2,
  4. Jennifer Butte1,
  5. Patrick Henn3,
  6. Rolf Rossaint1,
  7. Saša Sopka1,2
  1. 1 Anesthesiology Clinic, University Hospital Aachen, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
  2. 2 Aachen Interdisciplinary Training Center for Medical Education, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
  3. 3 School of Medicine, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura Thaeter; lthaeter{at}


Objective The aim of this study was to implement and evaluate a newly developed standardised handover curriculum for medical students. We sought to assess its effect on students’ awareness, confidence and knowledge regarding handover.

Design A controlled educational research study.

Setting The pilot handover training curriculum was integrated into a curriculum led by the Departments of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (AI) at the University Hospital. It consisted of three modules integrated into a 4-week course of AI. Multiple types of handover settings namely end-of-shift, operating room/postanaesthesia recovery unit, intensive care unit, telephone and discharge were addressed.

Participants A total of n=147 fourth-year medical students participated in this study, who received either the current standard existing curriculum (no teaching of handover, n=78) or the curriculum that incorporated the pilot handover training (n=69).

Outcome measures Paper-based questionnaires regarding attitude, confidence and knowledge towards handover and patient safety were used for pre-assessment and post-assessment.

Results Students showed a significant increase in knowledge (p<0.01) and self-confidence for the use of standardised handover tools (p<0.01) as well as accurate handover performance (p<0.01) among the pilot group.

Conclusion We implemented and evaluated a pilot curriculum for undergraduate handover training. Students displayed a significant increase in knowledge and self-confidence for the use of standardised handover tools and accuracy in handover performance. Further studies should evaluate whether the observed effect is sustained across time and is associated with patient benefit.

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  • LT and HS contributed equally.

  • Contributors LT and HS equally contributed to drafting this manuscript. LT, HS, LH, JB, PH, RR and SS have made substantial contributions to the design of the study, the analysis and interpretation of the; have been involved in editing the manuscript and have critically reviewed it for important intellectual content prior to submission; and have given final approval of the version submitted.

  • Funding The European Union Erasmus Multilateral Projects programme funded the PATIENT Project. Project number 527620-LLP-1-2012-1-NL-ERASMUS-FEXI.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Medical Ethics Committee, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University (EK: 155/17).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Extra data can be accessed via the Dryad data repository at

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