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October/November 2013 (vol. 10/3)

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Research Plus

Nursing tasks cause low-back pain

A systematic review (89 included papers) concludes that activities involved in nursing increase the risk of, and are associated with, low-back pain (LBP) irrespective of nursing technique, personal characteristics, and non work-related factors. Patient handling accounts for much of the excess risk, but other factors, such as the nurse/patient ratio are also important. There is an elevated risk even when assistive lifting devices are used, or when two people rather than one do the lifting. A threshold below which nursing activities do not increase LBP risk cannot be established from current evidence. The reviewers applied the ‘Bradford Hill criteria’ – a set of  nine conditions that must be met to establish causation  – to the entire body of research evidence and go as far as  concluding that work-relatedness should be presumed  unless there is evidence to the contrary.

International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 2013; 19(3): 223–244

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Occupational Health at Work October/November 2013 (vol. 10/3) pp41