Safe Patient Handling Programs and Injury Prevention

The Research Question:

"In evaluating the research literature on Injury Prevention Programs (IPP) for healthcare workers and residents in Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities, has the implementation of a comprehensive IPP in LTC:

  • impacted the number of lost-time incidents due to musculoskeletal injuries and/or associated costs for nursing staff (RNs, LPNs and PCAs)?
  • improved the quality of the workplace for nursing staff?
  • improved the quality of resident care and safety?

Finally, what does the research literature suggest are the critical nurse-related, resident-related, training-related, and equipment-related factors associated with successful IPP implementation?"



Patient handling tasks are a leading contributor to injuries among healthcare workers, who are more likely to suffer from workplace-related injuries than individuals who work in other sectors. The Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Health and Community Services has developed an Injury Prevention Program (IPP) for nursing staff employed in Long Term Care (LTC) to promote safe patient handling and to prevent injuries to the staff. The IPP consists of education and training, installation of lifting equipment, and the creation of several new positions for program coordination, policy development, education, and training.

The Department of Research, Eastern Health, is evaluating the IPP to determine the impact and effectiveness of this program on nursing staff and residents in LTC. Our partners in the Department of Research asked the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research to complete a scan of the peer-reviewed literature related to safe patient handling, with particular interest in the types of programs or interventions that may be associated with reduced musculoskeletal injuries among nursing staff.

“Safe patient handling” programs often involve multiple interventions such as worker education programs, physical conditioning or exercise programs, disability management, organizational policies, and/or the use of mechanical lifts or other patient transfer equipment. The published literature in this area includes a number of special topics that are not relevant to the particular needs of our partners for this report, such as lifting bariatric patients or muscular/spinal motion analysis during lifting. Given the project parameters specified by the Department of Research, Eastern Health, we formulated a search strategy that would enable us to focus on outcomes identified in their proposal, namely those related to intervention processes and intervention outcomes.




Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000