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Manual patient handling in the healthcare setting: a scoping review.

Johnson, Katharine; Swinton, Paul; Pavlova, Anastasia; Cooper, Kay



Manual patient handling is the most frequently reported risk factor for work-related musculoskeletal disorders in healthcare. Patient handling tasks are routinely performed manually without assistive devices, and can create awkward postures and high loads for nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs). However, AHPs - notably physiotherapists - also utilize therapeutic handling to facilitate patient movement during rehabilitation. The objective of this study was to comprehensively map the literature surrounding manual patient handling (without assistive devices) by healthcare practitioners. AMED, CINAHL, MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus and EMBASE databases were searched. Grey literature was sourced from Google Scholar, EThOS, Open Grey, Health and Safety Executive, National Institute for Occupational Safety, and Health and Work Safe Australia. Literature published in English between 2002 and 2021 was included. Forty-nine records were identified: 36 primary research studies, 1 systematic review and 12 "other", including narrative and government reports. Primary research was predominantly observational cross-sectional (n=21). The most common settings included laboratories (n=13) and hospitals (n=13). Seven research questions were identified, with patient handling practices (n=13) the most common. Nurses formed the largest practitioner population (n=13) and patients were often simulated (n=12). Common outcomes included tasks performed (n=13) and physical demands during patient handling (n=13). This comprehensive scoping review identified that most research was observational, investigating nurses in hospitals or laboratories. More research on manual patient handling by AHPs and investigation of the biomechanics involved in therapeutic handling is needed. Further qualitative research would allow for greater understanding of manual patient handling practices within healthcare.


JOHNSON, K., SWINTON, P., PAVLOVA, A. and COOPER, K. 2023. Manual patient handling in the healthcare setting: a scoping review. Physiotherapy [online], 120, pages 60-77. Available from:

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jun 4, 2023
Online Publication Date Jun 8, 2023
Publication Date Sep 30, 2023
Deposit Date Jun 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jun 9, 2023
Journal Physiotherapy
Print ISSN 0031-9406
Electronic ISSN 1873-1465
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 120
Pages 60-77
Keywords Manual handling; Patient handling; Physiotherapists; Workplace health and safety; Healthcare services; Allied health personnel; Delivery of health care; Lifting; Moving and lifting patient; Musculoskeletal diseases; Posture
Public URL
Additional Information This article has been published with separate supporting information. This supporting information has been incorporated into a single file on this repository and can be found at the end of the file associated with this output.


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