This study aimed to measure the effectiveness of competency-based training, as recommended by the Royal College of Nursing, on the manual handling behaviour of health care staff. Sixteen health care organisations participated in the study representing both acute and primary care, and a wide geographical spread including England, Scotland and Wales. A question set was developed to measure the level of compliance with the RCN recommendations at each participating organisation. Four members of staff were recruited at each organisation and asked to perform three patient handling tasks: (1) sitting-to-standing transfer; (2) repositioning in sitting; and (3) lying-to-lying transfer. Data were recorded about the manual handling behaviour using video and audio tape recordings. Measurement tools included observational methods (postural analysis) and interview methods (concurrent verbal protocols and semi-structured interviews). Results showed that there was a wide variation in the level of compliance with the RCN recommendations and that, in general, a high level of compliance was found in organisations where staff had better problem-solving abilities, possibly due to higher levels of supervision and support in the workplace.
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