A substantive body of literature exists about nurses' risk for injury, but much less is known about musculoskeletal disorders, also termed ergonomic injuries, occurring in certified nurse aides (CNAs). To address this gap in the literature, and building on the extant research about workplace injuries in nurses, the aim of this study was to explore both the extent of and reasons for the occurrence of back injuries in CNAs. These data are important given that CNAs are essential members of healthcare teams with whom registered nurses (RNs) closely collaborate in caring for patients.
Systematic random sampling was used to select 200 individuals from the State Board of Nursing's public list of nursing assistants that contained more than 2,000 names. These CNAs were mailed a survey that asked them about whether or not they had incurred injuries while working as CNAs and the circumstances under which these injuries occurred.
Thirty-five participants completed the 19-item, self-report survey regarding back injuries incurred while working. Questions asked about demographics, injuries at work, injury prevention training received at work and in their educational programs, and about factors least liked about their jobs.
Almost 46% (n = 16) of the respondents reported having hurt themselves while lifting, moving, or helping a patient, with 40% (n = 14) specifically reporting having incurred a back injury. Eleven of the injured respondents (79%) were working in nursing homes at the time the injury occurred. Certified nurse aides also identified poor working relationships with RNs as a factor influencing their perceptions of work.
As shown in earlier research with nurses, the high number of CNAs reporting a work-related injury that occurred while lifting or moving a patient is cause for alarm. It demonstrates the need for further research about this phenomenon as well as ongoing interventions to educate CNAs about injury prevention, particularly among those working in nursing home environments.
Patricia Graham, MS, RN, CNE, Nurse Aide Program Director, Front Range Community College, Boulder County Campus, Longmont, CO.
Jacalyn P. Dougherty, PhD, RN, Nursing Research Consultant, Aurora, CO.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.