Manual handling activities and injuries among nurses: an Australian hospital study

J Adv Nurs. 2000 Apr;31(4):875-83. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2000.01362.x.


The aims of this study were to identify patterns of manual handling activities and their associated injuries and consequences among nurses working at a large teaching and referral medical centre in Melbourne, Australia. A self-report 140-item questionnaire was distributed to 523 registered nurses working full time at the medical centre. Of the 269 (51.4%) nurses who completed the questionnaire, 108 (40.1%) retrospectively reported an injury associated with manual handling activity, of which 75.9% (82) comprised back injuries. When all full-time nurses working at the medical centre are considered, the prevalence of all manual handling injuries was 20.6% (n=108) and 15.7% (n=87) for back injuries. About two-thirds (67.6%) of all manual handling injuries were associated with direct patient care activities and another third (32.4%) with non-direct patient care activities. Approximately one-third (34.3%) of all injuries were associated with lifting patients and this activity comprised one half of all causes associated with injuries arising from direct patient care activities. The consequences of injuries were significant. Recommendations for reducing manual handling activities and injuries are made and future research directions are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Back Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Back Injuries / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lifting / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Care*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Health*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Victoria / epidemiology