Patient Handling Methods in Occupational Therapy Curricula

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The incidence of work related musculoskeletal injuries is of growing concern in health care. Manual patient transfers are the standard of practice in most health care facilities in the United States and account for 16.5 per 100 injuries among occupational therapists. Despite this evidence, educators teach manual transfers in occupational therapy curricula as the best way to move patients. A review of methods taught as the standard of practice and the behavioral constructs that best predict educators’ intention to change curriculum content formed the foundation for this research. Driven by the theory of planned behavior, the researcher developed a valid and reliable self-report questionnaire and sent it to all 245 occupational therapy educators in the United States who teach patient transfers. Seventy-eight percent of 118 responding educators reported they teach manual transfers as the standard of practice. Stepwise regression analysis demonstrated that Attitude and Perceived Behavioral Control are the best predictors of intention to continue teaching manual transfers as the standard; however, Normative Belief and Attitude best predict intention to teach safe patient handling and movement as the standard of practice. The occupational therapy profession is experiencing a workforce shortage, and persistent teaching of unsafe manual patient transfer techniques increases occupational injury and thus reduces size of the workforce. A paradigm shift in education and in the way therapists handle patients will protect the health of future therapists. The implications for social change are that administrators have a means of assessing attitudes around manual patient transfers; understanding these attitudes can results in developing prevention programs that minimize injury to occupational therapists during manual transfer.


Thesis (Ph.D.) -- Walden University, 2009.

Dissertation submitted to the Health Services faculty of Walden University in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Health Services.