Back Injuries Among Nurses: Prevalence, Risk-factors and Prevention Academic Article uri icon


  • Rehabilitation counsellors have long been interested in back injuries among at-risk occupational groups such as nurses. Back injuries have a high prevalence among nurses, with enormous financial costs being incurred by health agencies and governments. Consequently the prevention of back injuries is a high priority for all concerned. Following a discussion of prevalence studies and risk factors for back injuries, we selectively review research on the effectiveness of multi-component (education and exercises) preventive programs designed specifically for nurses. While there is some empirical support for preventive programs, research in the area is still in its infancy. Looking at the broader picture, we conclude that preventive efforts must ultimately address the design of the workplace and the availability of proper equipment. Importantly, nursing unions and governments are moving towards “no lifting” policies and re-organisation of work practices. For effective rehabilitation, though, of those who do suffer back injuries, the adoption of a Workplace Disability Management approach (rather the traditional OH&S and return to work services provided by health and rehabilitation professionals) is advocated.

publication date

  • 2001