In the electro-mechanical impedance (EMI) technique, which is based on induced strain actuation through piezoelectric ceramic (PZT) patch, the knowledge of shear stress distribution in the adhesive bond layer between the patch and the host structure is very pertinent for reliable health monitoring of structures. The analytical derivation of continuum based shear lag model covered in this paper aims to provide an improved and more accurate model for shear force interaction between the host structure and the PZT patch (assumed square for simplicity) through the adhesive bond layer, taking care of all the piezo, structural and adhesive effects rigorously and simultaneously. Further, it eliminates the hassle of determining the equivalent impedance of the structure and the actuator separately, as required in the previous models, which was approximate in nature. The results are compared with the previous models to highlight the higher accuracy of the new approach. Based on the new model, a continuum based interaction term has been derived for quantification of the shear lag and inertia effects. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.