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What and when to debrief: a scoping review examining interprofessional clinical debriefing
  1. Julia Paxino1,
  2. Rebecca A Szabo1,2,3,
  3. Stuart Marshall3,
  4. David Story3,
  5. Elizabeth Molloy4
  1. 1 Department of Medical Education, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Department of Critical Care, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4 Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Julia Paxino, The University of Melbourne Department of Medical Education, Melbourne, VIC 3052, Australia; j.paxino{at}


Introduction Clinical debriefing (CD) improves teamwork and patient care. It is implemented across a range of clinical contexts, but delivery and structure are variable. Furthermore, terminology to describe CD is also inconsistent and often ambiguous. This variability and the lack of clear terminology obstructs understanding and normalisation in practice. This review seeks to examine the contextual factors relating to different CD approaches with the aim to differentiate them to align with the needs of different clinical contexts.

Methods Articles describing CD were extracted from Medline, CINAHL, ERIC, PubMed, PsychINFO and Academic Search Complete. Empirical studies describing CD that involved two or more professions were eligible for inclusion. Included papers were charted and analysed using the Who-What-When-Where-Why-How model to examine contextual factors which were then used to develop categories of CD. Factors relating to what prompted debriefing and when debriefing occurred were used to differentiate CD approaches.

Results Forty-six papers were identified. CD was identified as either prompted or routine, and within these overarching categories debriefing was further differentiated by the timing of the debrief. Prompted CD was either immediate or delayed and routine CD was postoperative or end of shift. Some contextual factors were unique to each category while others were relatively heterogeneous. These categories help clarify the alignment between the context and the intention of CD.

Conclusions The proposed categories offer a practical way to examine and discuss CD which may inform decisions about implementation. By differentiating CD according to relevant contextual factors, these categories may reduce confusion which currently hinders discourse and implementation. The findings from this review promote context-specific language and a shift away from conceptions of CD that embody a one-size-fits-all approach.

  • Healthcare quality improvement
  • Patient safety
  • Quality improvement
  • Teams

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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  • X @inquisitiveGyn, @hypoxicchicken, @CritCareUniMelb, @emolloy1

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conception of the work. JP is the garantor for this paper and led the design of the review and execution of the data base search, assessment of papers and data charting. JP led the analysis and the revision of the manuscript. RAS, SM, DS and EM made substantial contributions to the design of the work, the analysis and interpretation of the data and critically revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding This paper was supported as part of a CD project which received funding from the Melbourne Medical School, The University of Melbourne as part of a Workforce Partnership Innovation Scheme.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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