ISBAR+ a communication tool to advocate for patients

Matthew Links, Michelle McLean, Miriam Pepper, George Hrivnak, Cindy J Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Recognising the importance of social determinants of health is a key part of the curriculum for health practitioners. The ability to advocate on behalf of patients is a competency that demonstrates enacting this understanding in practice. Communication frameworks are used to structure difficult conversations in multiple settings, notably handover. There is no commonly accepted communication framework to structure a patient advocacy conversation.

We assembled a team with skills in patient advocacy, healthcare communication, community advocacy, education and business negotiation to identify the knowledge, skills and attitudes required and to develop a framework suitable for this purpose. We chose to adapt the ISBAR framework as an existing communication framework commonly used for handover.

ISBAR+ is a framework that is based on a person-centred approach and ‘integrated negotiation’. ‘Intention and Inquiry’ involves a compassionate understanding of the patient’s position. ‘Situation’ is a succinct framing of the problem. ‘Background’ is the information required for the decision-maker to make a person-centred decision. The next step is ‘alignment’ of the priorities of the patient, practitioner and decision-maker. ‘Response’ is the proposed solution, and ‘+’ (‘plus’) is the actions taken for implementation.

ISBAR+ provides a framework for conversations advocating on behalf of patients that draws from the literature around advocacy inside and outside health. A communication framework allows the development and evaluation of interventions to teach and promote this critical function to promote person-centred care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2024


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