An exploration of undergraduate nursing and physiotherapy students' views regarding education for patient handling

Rosie Kneafsey, Jill Ramsay, Helen Edwards, Helen Callaghan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims and objectives. To ascertain the views of undergraduate student nurses and physiotherapists regarding their education in patient handling. Background. Musculo-skeletal injuries are an important cause of staff sickness absence and attrition from the nursing profession and are a recognised problem within the physiotherapy profession. Nurses and physiotherapists are at risk of musculo-skeletal injuries as a result of their role in assisting patients with movement. Methods. A questionnaire survey was undertaken of undergraduate nursing and physiotherapy students (n=371) at one university. Results. Most students agreed that university teaching about moving and handling prepared them for clinical practice (64%). Over a third reported that they had never undertaken a written moving and handling risk assessment in clinical practice (38%). Almost half of the sample (40%) admitted undertaking unsafe moving and handling activities. Half (50%) also stated that they would rather 'fit' into the team than challenge unsafe practice. Almost a third (29%) stated that they had begun to experience pain since becoming a student. There were significant differences between nursing and physiotherapy students. Physiotherapy students were more likely to report being supervised when moving and handling and reported being more assertive about adhering to safe practice. Conclusions. The well-being of both nursing and physiotherapy undergraduate students is threatened when students undertake work placements in clinical settings. University-based education in safe patient handling, though important, can be undermined by workplace settings where unsafe practices occur. Collaboration is needed between university educators, managers and practice-based mentors to support students to maintain safe approaches to moving and handling patients. Relevance to clinical practice. A third of students reported developing pain since becoming a healthcare student. Students entering their professions already injured may leave the workforce owing to poor physical well-being. It is vital that the clinical workplace supports safe systems of working.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3493-3503
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Issue number23-24
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


    • 'Moving and handling' education
    • 'safe patient handling'
    • Nursing
    • Physiotherapy
    • Students
    • Survey

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Nursing(all)


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