Investigating emergency nurses’ beliefs and experiences with patient handling in the emergency department

Abra R.H. Osborne, Clifford Connell, Julia Morphet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Patient handling policy intends to decrease the risk of musculoskeletal injury for nurses. Many factors influence nurses’ adherence to patient handling policy, including the context in which the activities take place. The aim of this study was to investigate emergency nurses’ beliefs and experiences with patient handling in the emergency department. Methods: A phenomenological approach was used to explore the participants’ experience of patient handling in the ED. Focus group interviews were held in a Victorian emergency department. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and the data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Five interviews were held with 40 nurse participants. Four themes were identified that described participants beliefs and experiences of patient handling: ‘Putting the patient first’ describes participants prioritisation of patient safety over their own; ‘Patient -related challenges’ describes the patient factors (e.g. language, mobility, size) that make patient handling more difficult; ‘Staff knowledge’ of policy and procedure; and ‘Inadequate resources’ which describes the physical and human resource limitations that made patient handling more difficult. Conclusions: Issues with equipment, education and patient handling culture are widespread, and this study reaffirms the importance of considering context in developing interventions to improve practice. Introduction of a Safe Patient Handling Program in the ED, that addresses multiple barriers simultaneously, may improve adherence to policy, and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury in emergency nurses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalAustralasian Emergency Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Emergency nursing
  • Manual handling
  • Patient handling
  • Phenomenology

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