Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Evaluating Safe Patient Handling Systems: Is There a Better Way?

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posted on 2021-11-08, 08:18 authored by Borner, Heidi Elizabeth

The literature presented here shows that injuries suffered by staff and patients due to patient handling are preventable but patient handling injuries to health care workers and patients remain a costly problem to health care  organizations in many countries. "No Lifting" patient handling policies have been adopted yet health care organizations currently sit amongst the top three worst performing industries in terms of disabling injuries to their employees. A factor that contributes to this situation is the lack of tools for evaluating patient handling systems including workplace culture and climate. This observational study analyzes the responses of 38 nurses from two similar units that use different patient handling systems to test the reliability and validity of the Safe Patient Handling Survey (TM) SPH Survey(TM), a perception survey and improvement tool for employees and employers. The survey contains 55 questions divided into 6 clusters, staff and patient injury and violence questions, and picture questions depicting unsafe techniques. The data were analyzed to see how the SPH Survey(TM) scores correlate with incidents, and its ability to detect differences between the two units. The results of the Pearson and Cronbach(TM) alpha tests show strong reliability, validity and consistency of the SPH Survey(TM). ANOVA comparison of means and Spearman(TM) rho tests shows that higher (better) scores on the SPH Survey(TM) clusters correlate with lower numbers of patient injuries, lower reports of verbal and physical violence episodes, and lower staff injuries. Differences were detected between the units with Unit 2 scoring higher than Unit 1 in all SPH Survey(TM) clusters and scoring lower in staff and patient injuries and violence incidents. Although the analysis was limited by the small sample size, the study has created a sound basis for further investigation. Health care organizations, unions, government bodies, insurers, educational institutions, and researchers must continue to reduce patient handling risk for both health care workers and for patients. The SPH Survey(TM) is shown to be an easy way to reliably evaluate patient handling systems and workplace culture, target improvement initiatives, and continually monitor the level of patient handling risk in the workplace. Low-risk patient handling gives health care providers the means to focus on delivering high quality patient care, without endangering their own health and well-being.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Nursing

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health


Walton, Jo; Duke, Jan