Assisting less able people to move in a healthcare setting is a very common occurrence but carries risks to staff and patients. The scientific study of patient handling activities and interventions to help reduce musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace is a relatively new but growing area. Recent literature reviews have identified two key factors, the lack of high quality studies and the lack of strong links between patient handling interventions and reduced musculoskeletal injury.
This study has systematically reviewed the available literature and investigated the potential outcome measures used to show benefits of improved patient handling. A wide range of outcomes has been identified concentrated on the benefits to staff, patients and organisations. No methods were identified to compare different benefits, outcomes or intervention strategies.
This study used mixed methods to develop a tool to compare the results of all types of interventions:
a. Focus group studies in four EU countries recorded a priority list of the 12 most important outcomes from patient handling interventions
b. The most suitable method for examining the 12 outcomes was identified
c. The Intervention Evaluation Tool (IET) was developed as a single measurement tool
d. The IET was translated and used in four EU countries to evaluate its usability and its usefulness to patient handling practitioners
The EU trials and subsequent expert review have given favourable feedback for the IET. The IET creates 12 outcome evaluations with detail and differentiation, and an overall performance score to assist an organisation to target its future interventions. The method can be used to compare interventions, and the performance between organisations and countries across the EU. Though the IET needs more field trials and validity testing it is hoped that a wider application may be to create a benchmarking method that can assist in the improvement of patient handling systems across Europe.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.