• knowledge;
  • manual handling;
  • moving and handling;
  • nurses;
  • training

Kay K, Glass N. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2011; 17: 231–237

Debunking the manual handling myth: An investigation of manual handling knowledge and practices in the Australian private health sector

Nursing care involves complex patient handling tasks. Strategies to address associated manual handling issues commonly include training programmes, despite conflicting evidence regarding training efficacy for manual handling injury reduction. Resultant knowledge acquisition and skills transfer from training programmes are prerequisites for subsequent practice changes in the clinical setting. This paper draws upon the findings from a questionnaire completed by 100 nurses in an Australian private hospital in 2008. A substantial knowledge deficit was identified, despite previous training undertaken by participants. A striking finding was that although 82% (n = 82) of nurses surveyed believed they used safe manual handling practices, only 18% (n = 15) of these nurses correctly answered items assessing manual handling knowledge. The study suggests prudence in the assumption of skills and knowledge acquisition during manual handling training. It informs the development of future implementation strategies, and provides a contributory explanation for the limited application of recommended practices after training completion.