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Manual material handling advice and assistive devices for preventing and treating back pain in workers: a Cochrane Systematic Review
  1. J Verbeek,
  2. K P Martimo,
  3. J Karppinen,
  4. P P Kuijer,
  5. E P Takala,
  6. E Viikari-Juntura
  1. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Cochrane Occupational Safety and Health Review Group, Kuopio, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr J Verbeek, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Cochrane Occupational Safety and Health Review Group, PO Box 310, 70701 Kuopio, Finland; jos.verbeek{at}

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In many occupations, it is difficult to avoid imposing heavy loads on the back (eg, lifting and moving patients in healthcare). Therefore, it is not surprising that emphasis has been given to optimising lifting techniques and ways to manually handle patients and objects to prevent back pain and injuries. More skilled workers are supposed to cope better with adverse ergonomic conditions, resulting in less strain on the back, less back pain and consequently, less back pain-related disability. This has led to a strong belief that it is useful to advise employees or organise training for them on correct manual material handling (MMH) techniques and to provide them with assistive devices. Therefore, we wanted to determine the effectiveness of MMH advice and training and the provision of assistive devices in preventing and treating back pain. We have updated the previous version of the systematic review with a new search, new studies and improved methods.1 2

We searched CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2011, issue 1), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Nioshtic, CISdoc, Science Citation Index and PsychLIT to February 2011.

We included randomised controlled trials (RCT) and, because we thought it would be difficult to find RCTs, cohort studies with a …

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  • This review was conducted under the auspices of the Cochrane Back Review Group.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Australian Safety and Compensation Council.

  • Competing interests None.

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