Systematic review of patient handling activities starting in lying, sitting and standing positions


Sue Hignett,
Department of Human Sciences,
Loughborough University,
Loughborough LE11 3TU,


Background. Over the last 20 years a number of methods have been recommended in professional guidelines for moving patients. This review was undertaken as it was recognized that there was a need for clinical work involving handling patients (systems of work and equipment) to be based on scientific evidence.

Aims. The aim of this paper is to report the methodology, search strategy and results relating to work involving the care, treatment and transfer of patients starting in lying, sitting and standing positions.

Methods. An unusual philosophical stance has been taken by appraising studies within a study type rather than comparatively. This facilitated the inclusion of a wide range of study designs (quantitative and qualitative). A string search was run on eight databases and supplemented by other search strategies. A published checklist was selected and inter-rater reliability established before the main review commenced. A systematic process for inclusion, exclusion, appraisal, extraction and synthesis was undertaken.

Results. Thirty-two studies were included: nine for activities with the patient starting in a lying position and 23 for the sitting position. No studies were found with respect to patient handling activities starting in a standing position. These data were synthesized into evidence statements.

Conclusions. The evidence statements support the use of hoists (for nonweight bearing patients), standaids, sliding sheets (double thickness rollers), lateral transfer boards, walking belts and adjustable height beds and baths. It is suggested that these items should constitute a minimum equipment list for any clinical environment where patient handling takes place on a regular basis. The lack of research relating to patient handling in standing is of particular concern and it is recommended that this area should be a high research priority to address concerns about patient handling in rehabilitation activities.