Safe patient handling curriculum in occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs: A descriptive study of school curriculum within the United States of America

Work. 2012;42(3):385-92.


The purpose of this study was to identify safe patient handling (SPH) curricular content in accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs in the United States of America. A survey was emailed to 155 accredited occupational therapy and 137 accredited occupational therapy assistant programs. With a 39% response rate, most programs addressed SPH curricula by including lectures and lab-based experiences with gait belts, slide boards, and manual transfers while stressing ‘safe’ body mechanics. There were limited responses regarding curricular-based hands-on experience, evaluation of sit-to-stand lifts, how to safely transfer bariatric persons, and information on “no-lift” policies. While occupational therapists have a central role in teaching SPH to caregivers, it is important to enhance SPH curricula to reduce exposure to musculoskeletal risk, thereby, increasing the health and safety of the occupational therapy workforce as well those whom the profession serves.

MeSH terms

  • Accreditation
  • Allied Health Occupations / education*
  • Allied Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Curriculum / standards*
  • Humans
  • Moving and Lifting Patients / adverse effects
  • Moving and Lifting Patients / standards*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Occupational Therapy / education*
  • Organizational Policy
  • Patient Transfer* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Transfer* / standards
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Professional Role / psychology
  • Program Evaluation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety Management / methods
  • Safety Management / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Workforce