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Intervention strategies to reduce musculoskeletal injuries associated with handling patients: a systematic review
  1. S Hignett
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S Hignett, Lecturer in Ergonomics, Dept of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK; 


Aims: To report, analyse, and discuss the results of a systematic review looking at intervention strategies to reduce the risk factors associated with patient handling activities.

Methods: A search strategy was devised to seek out research between 1960 and 2001. Inclusion/exclusion criteria limited the entry of papers into the review process. A checklist was selected and modified to include a wide range of study designs. Inter-rater reliability was established between six reviewers before the main review process commenced. Each paper was read by two reviewers and given a quality rating score, with any conflicts being resolved by a third reviewer. Papers were grouped by category: multifactor, single factor, and technique training based interventions.

Results: A total of 2796 papers were found, of which 880 were appraised. Sixty three papers relating to interventions are reported in this paper. The results are reported as summary statements with the associated evidence level (strong, moderate, limited, or poor).

Conclusion: There is strong evidence that interventions predominantly based on technique training have no impact on working practices or injury rates. Multifactor interventions, based on a risk assessment programme, are most likely to be successful in reducing risk factors related to patient handling activities. The seven most commonly used strategies are identified and it is suggested that these could be used to form the basis of a generic intervention programme, with additional local priorities identified through the risk assessment process. Health care providers should review their policies and procedures in light of these findings.

  • intervention
  • manual handling
  • musculoskeletal injuries
  • systematic review

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