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moving and lifting patients, nursing curriculum, nursing education, occupational safety, patient handling, safe patient handling and mobility



  1. Powell-Cope, Gail PhD, ARNP, FAAN
  2. Rugs, Deborah PhD, RN
  3. Ialynytchev, Anna PhD, MPH
  4. Devine, Debbie PhD, ARNP
  5. McCoskey, Kelsey MS, OTR/L, CSPHP
  6. Zhang, Yuan PhD, RN
  7. Deter, Lena MPH, RN


Purpose: Despite the evidence supporting safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) practices, anecdotal evidence suggests that such practices are not universally taught in academic nursing programs. The primary goal of this cross-sectional descriptive study was to understand what nursing programs teach students about lifting, turning, transferring, repositioning, and mobilizing patients.


Methods: Faculty from baccalaureate and associate's degree nursing programs in the United States were invited via e-mail to complete a 64-item survey questionnaire, which was accessible through an online link. Participants were also invited to send documents related to SPHM course content to the research team.


Results: Faculty from 228 baccalaureate and associate's degree nursing programs completed the questionnaire. Most curricula included outdated manual techniques, taught reliance on body mechanics to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, and made use of nonergonomic aids such as draw sheets. Elements of SPHM in the curricula were less common, and nearly half of the respondents didn't know whether their affiliated clinical facilities had an SPHM program.


Conclusions: The survey results suggest many possibilities for improvement-such as partnering with faculty in physical and occupational therapy departments, clinical partnering, and working with equipment vendors-to better incorporate evidence-based SPHM principles and practices into nursing curricula.