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The influence of individual and organisational factors on nurses’ behaviour to use lifting devices in healthcare

Publication of Innovations in Care

A. Burdorf, H.S. Miedema, J.J. Knibbe, E. Koppelaar | Article | Publication date: 01 July 2013
Among nurses, low back pain is a common musculoskeletal disorder. A significant proportion of back pain episodes can be attributed to events that occur during patient handling activities when nurses are exposed to heavy lifting, awkward back postures, and pushing and/or pulling. In the past years, many ergonomic interventions have been developed, like lifting devices, to reduce mechanical load related to patient handling activities in order to (partly) decrease the occurrence of low back pain. The efficacy of lifting devices designed to reduce mechanical load has been demonstrated in several laboratory studies. However, the timely and integrated implementation at the workplace remains difficult. Various intervention studies have indicated that individual behaviour of nurses is a key factor in successful implementation of lifting devices in healthcare. As examples, Evanoff et al. (2003) and Li et al. (2004) identified the lack of perceived need to use lifts as an important barrier in the effectiveness of lifting devices at the workplace. Nelson et al. (2006) showed that acceptance of patient handling equipment by the staff was a crucial facilitator in the implementation process of a multiple intervention aimed at patient handling in healthcare. A previous study in hospitals and nursing homes showed that individual behaviour of nurses, i.e. nurses’ motivation to use lifting devices, was strongly associated with lifting devices use. This study also pointed at the influence of organisationallevel measures on nurses’ behaviour, comprising both factors in each ward as well as at the managerial level of the healthcare institute. Thus, the appropriate implementation of ergonomic devices requires a careful process whereby individual behaviour is supported by organisational measures in order to enable and support the individual to adopt the required behaviour to prevent musculoskeletal complaints. A recent systematic review corroborated that upstream organisational strategies had a profound impact on musculoskeletal health.

Author(s) - affiliated with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

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