Towards rehabilitative handling in caring for patients following stroke: a participatory action research project


  • Elizabeth A. Mitchell BSc, RGN, PgDipEd,

  • Ann-Marie Conlon BSc,

  • Margaret Armstrong RGN,

  • Assumpta A. Ryan BSc, MEd, RMN, RGN, RNT

Liz Mitchell
Lecturer in Nursing
University of Ulster
Northland Road
Londonderry BT48 7JL
Telephone: +0287 137 5006


Aim of the study.  This study aimed to facilitate nurses to take ownership of their moving and handling practice.

Objectives.  To (i) facilitate nurses in sharing their insights in moving and handling patients following stroke, (ii) enable nurses to identify facilitators of safer moving and handling practice, and (iii) empower nurses in collaboration with physiotherapists to direct changes in their practice.

Background.  Traditional top down moving and handling training has had variable impact on nursing practice. A moving and handling incident in a stroke unit demonstrated that there were professional development needs for staff in the stroke unit in relation to their moving and handling practice in the care of patients following stroke.

Methods.  An insider participatory action research approach was utilized. Data were analysed from focus group meetings, brainstorming sessions, observational studies, and from written reflective accounts.

Findings.  Peer pressure, communication, rehabilitative handling awareness, teamwork between nurses and physiotherapists, equipment and environmental issues were affecting moving and handling practice. Nurses identified that equipment, environment, communication and teamwork strategies would facilitate them in using rehabilitative moving and handling practice. Nurses in collaboration with physiotherapists directed changes in their practice. Participant staff members felt involved and valued, and reported changes in understanding, in their handling practice, and enhanced teamwork.

Conclusion.  Participatory action research creates a supportive environment, where those directly involved in moving and handling patients can investigate and direct changes in their practice. Thus it is a significant vehicle for delivering professional development in moving and handling practice.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Professional development initiatives in moving and handling practice must incorporate processes that enhance inter-disciplinary teamwork and value and utilize the views and experiences of the staff who move and handle patients.