Publication date: December 21, 2007
Results from the 2005 NSWHN indicate that "always" having mechanical lifting devices available can reduce injuries1. Regulated nurses providing direct care who reported that mechanical lifting devices were "always available" to them were less likely to report that they suffered from back pain and/or pain in other areas of the body. Overall, 77% of regulated nurses providing direct care indicated that lifting or transferring patients was part of their job. Of these nurses, 69% reported having access to a lifting device, and of those with access, 33% indicated the devices were "not always available."
The survey asked the respondents eight questions regarding mechanical lifting devices. The present analysis focuses on three of those questions: the first asked if their job involved lifting or transferring patients, the second asked if they had access to mechanical lifting devices and the third determined how often the devices were available for them to use ("always," "often," "sometimes" or "seldom"). It is worth noting that the survey did not investigate whether or not the devices were being used by the nurses.
A Lift for Patients... a Relief for Nurses?
Proportion of Regulated Nurses...
Figure 2: Lifting or Transfering Patiens, by Type of Nurse, Gender and Age Group, Canada, 2005
Figure 3: Lifting or Transfering Patients Indicating They Have Access to Lifting Devices, by Work Setting, Canada, 2005
Figure 4: Reporting Back Problems or Pain by Availability of Mechanical Lifting Devices, Canada, 2005
Why is this Important?
- Studies focusing on recruitment and retention strategies have shown that injuries in the workplace were identified as one of the major factors causing regulated nurses to leave the profession.1
- "Injuries among nursing personnel are costly in terms of lost productivity, disruption to work flow and claims paid to injured workers. They are also costly . . . in terms of pain and suffering, disability, stress and possible loss of employment."2
- International studies2, 3, 4, 5 have shown that having access to mechanical lifting devices in the workplace decreases the number of back problems and other pain found in the body reported by nurses.
- In addition to preventing injuries among regulated nurses, lifting devices can enhance patient safety by preventing patient injury.
- Mechanical lifting devices are safer for patients since, "The adult human form is an awkward burden to lift or carry . . . it has no handles, it is not rigid, and it is susceptible to severe damage if mishandled or dropped . . . they are maneuverable in tight spaces . . . and are safer for patients."3
- Overall, 77% (212,967) of regulated nurses providing direct care (275,982) reported that lifting or transferring patients was part of their job. Of these, 31% (66,120) indicated they did not have access to mechanical lifting devices. Furthermore, of those nurses indicating that they had access to mechanical lifting devices, 33% indicated that the devices were "not always available" to them.
- Of the nurses who did "not always" have mechanical lifting devices available to them (45,643), the reason most often stated for not using the devices (approximately 75%) was that there was not enough equipment.
- Of the regulated nurses responding to the survey who provided direct care, the most likely to indicate that lifting or transferring patients was part of their job were:
- Licensed practical nurses (84.5%, compared to 75.6% of registered nurses and 50.6% of registered psychiatric nurses);
- Male nurses (83.5%, compared to 76.8% of female nurses); and
- Younger nurses (83.1% of nurses under age 35, compared to 69.0% of nurses 55 years of age and older).
- Overall, 69% of regulated nurses who lifted or transferred patients as part of their job also indicated they had access to mechanical lifting devices.
- Access to lifting devices varied by jurisdiction. Regulated nurses in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan were most likely to indicate they had access to mechanical lifting devices (79.8%, 81% and 80.7% respectively). Regulated nurses in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Alberta and the territories were less likely to indicate they had access to mechanical lifting devices (66.3%, 66.3%, 63.2% and 47.9% respectively).
- A similar proportion of regulated nurses worked in hospitals and long-term care facilities providing direct care; 87.5% and 84.6% respectively indicated that lifting or transferring was part of their job. Among these nurses, there was a considerable difference in the proportion within these settings who indicated they had access to mechanical lifting devices.
- Overall, 95.4% of regulated nurses working in long-term care facilities that lifted or transferred patients indicated they had access to mechanical lifting devices, while 65.3% of regulated nurses working in hospitals had access.
- Regulated nurses who indicated they "always" had mechanical lifting devices available to them experienced a reduced amount of back pain and pain in other parts of the body.
- Of the regulated nurses who reported that mechanical lifting devices were "always available," almost one-quarter (24.8%) indicated they had experienced back pain, and 38.7% indicated they had experienced pain in other parts of the body.
- Of the regulated nurses who reported that they did "not always" have mechanical lifting devices available, 28.9% indicated they had experienced back pain and 44.0% indicated they had experienced pain in other parts of the body.
- The 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses was a nationally representative survey on the health and working conditions of the three regulated nursing professions in Canada, including RNs, LPNs and RPNs from 26 nursing organizations and regulating bodies in Canada.
- Data collection occurred from October 2005 to January 2006.
- The responding sample included 18,676 respondents: 9,704 RNs, 7,265 LPNs and 1,707 RPNs.
- The responding sample of regulated nurses providing direct care included 16,271 respondents: 7,870 RNs, 6,933 LPNs and 1,468 RPNs. This represents a weighted sample of 276,128 regulated nurses providing direct care: 211,357 RNs, 60,440 LPNs and 4,331 RPNs.
- The response rate for the survey was 80% overall: 80.8% for RNs, 78.4% for LPNs and 80.6% for RPNs.
- The survey was undertaken as a partnership between the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Health Canada and Statistics Canada.
- The master file of the survey is administered by Statistics Canada. CIHI and Health Canada have a share file of the database for use in analytic projects. Approximately 98% of respondents agreed to share their data with CIHI and Health Canada.
- For more detailed information on the survey and its limitations, please see the Statistics Canada report Findings from the 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses (2006).
- Data were weighted to permit representative estimates for each of the three nursing bodies at the provincial level.
- Data were combined for the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut because of small numbers.
- The survey focused on regulated nurses employed in Canada. It did not include retired or unemployed nurses.
- Bootstrap analysis was done to identify statistically significant differences between nurse type and demographic characteristics.
- Only statistically significant results are discussed in the text.
- Totals and proportions may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
- B. Evanoff, L. Wolf, E. Aton, J. Canos and J. Colllins. "Reduction in Injury Rates in Nursing Personnel Through Introduction of Mechanical Lifts in the Workplace," American Journal of Industrial Medicine 44, 5 (November 2003): pp. 451–57.
- J. Shamian, L. O’Brien-Pallas, M. Kerr, M. Koehoorn, D. Thomson and C. Alksnis, Effects of Job Strain, Hospital Organizational Factors and Individual Characteristics on Work-Related Disability Among Nurses (Final report submitted to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) (Toronto, 2001).
- Statistics Canada, 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses (CIHI share file) (Ottawa: Statistics Canada and CIHI, 2006).
- J. Li, L. Wolf and B. Evanoff. "Use of Mechanical Patient Lifts Decreased Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Injuries Among Health Care Workers," Injury Prevention 10, 4 (August 2004): p. 212–216.
- C.-F. Feng, M.-L. Chen and I.-F. Mao, "Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Different Measures of Low Back Pain Among Female Nursing Aides in Taiwanese Nursing Homes," BioMed Central Musculoskeletal Disorders 8, 52 (June 2007): , last modified June 25, 2007, cited November 5, 2007, from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2474/8/52.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) wishes to acknowledge and thank the following individuals for their contribution to this analysis:
- Luc Turcotte, Analyst, CIHI
- Ryanna Brown, Analyst, CIHI
- David Paton, Senior Methodologist, CIHI
- Lori Kirby, Senior Analyst, CIHI
- Andrea Porter-Chapman, Program Lead, CIHI
- Yvonne Rosehart, Program Lead, CIHI
- Britta Nielsen, Program Lead, CIHI
- Geoff Ballinger, Manager, CIHI
We would like to acknowledge and thank the past and present members of the National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses national advisory group as well as staff from the partner organizations that were associated with the survey.
We would particularly like to extend our thanks and gratitude to the regulated nurses who took the time to respond to the fall 2005 phone survey. Their support and collaboration were fundamental to the success of the survey.
If you would like to obtain more information on this initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.