Clinician roles and responsibilities during care transitions of older adults

Nancy L. Schoenborn, Alicia I. Arbaje, Kathryn J. Eubank, Kenric Maynor, Joseph A. Carrese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives To identify the perceived roles and responsibilities of clinicians during care transitions of older adults. Design Qualitative study involving 1-hour in-depth semistructured interviews. Audiotapes of interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed, and themes and subthemes were generated. Setting An acute care hospital, a skilled nursing facility, two community-based outpatient practices, and one home healthcare agency. Participants Forty healthcare professionals directly involved in care transitions of older adults (18 physicians, 11 home healthcare administrative and field staff, four social workers, three nurse practitioners, three physician assistants, and one hospital case manager). Measurements Perspectives of healthcare professionals regarding clinicians' roles and responsibilities during care transitions were examined and described. Results Content analysis revealed several themes: components of clinicians' roles during care transitions; congruence between self- and others' perceived ideal roles but incongruence between ideal and routine roles; ambiguity in accountability in the postdischarge period; factors prompting clinicians to act closer to ideal roles; and barriers to performing ideal roles. A conceptual framework was created to summarize clinicians' roles during care transitions. Conclusion This study reports differences between what healthcare professionals perceive as ideal roles of clinicians during care transitions and what clinicians actually do routinely. Certain patient and clinician factors prompt clinicians to act closer to the ideal roles. Multiple barriers interfere with consistent practice of ideal roles. Future investigations could evaluate interventions targeting various components of the conceptual framework and relevant outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-236
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • care transitions
  • clinician roles
  • healthcare professionals
  • older adults
  • qualitative study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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