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1.  Processes and Outcomes of the Veterans Health Administration Safe Patient Handling Program: Study Protocol 
JMIR Research Protocols  2013;2(2):e49.
Health care workers, such as nurses, nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, who manually move patients, are consistently listed in the top professions for musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These MSIs are typically caused by high-risk patient caregiving activities. In 2008, a safe patient handling (SPH) program was implemented in all 153 Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMCs) throughout the United States to reduce patient handling injuries.
The goal of the present study is to evaluate the effects associated with the national implementation of a comprehensive SPH program. The primary objectives of the research were to determine the effectiveness of the SPH program in improving direct care nursing outcomes and to provide a context for understanding variations in program results across sites over time. Secondary objectives of the present research were to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in reducing direct and indirect costs associated with patient handling, to explore the potential mediating and moderating mechanisms, and to identify unintended consequences of implementing the program.
This 3-year longitudinal study used mixed methods of data collection at 6- to 9-month intervals. The analyses will include data from surveys, administrative databases, individual and focus group interviews, and nonparticipant observations. For this study, a 3-tiered measurement plan was used. For Tier 1, the unit of analysis was the facility, the data source was the facility coordinator or administrative data, and all 153 VAMCs participated. For Tier 2, frontline caregivers and program peer leaders at 17 facilities each completed different surveys. For Tier 3, six facilities completed qualitative site visits, which included individual interviews, focus groups, and nonparticipant observations. Multiple regression models were proposed to test the effects of SPH components on nursing outcomes related to patient handling. Content analysis and constant comparative analysis were proposed for qualitative data analysis to understand the context of implementation and to triangulate quantitative data.
All three tiers of data for this study have been collected. We are now in the analyses and writing phase of the project, with the possibility for extraction of additional administrative data. The focus of this paper is to describe the SPH program, its evaluation study design, and its data collection procedures. This study evaluates the effects associated with the national implementation of a comprehensive SPH program that was implemented in all 153 VAMCs throughout the United States to reduce patient handling injuries.
To our knowledge, this is the largest evaluation of an SPH program in the United States. A major strength of this observational study design is that all VAMCs implemented the program and were included in Tier 1 of the study; therefore, population sampling bias is not a concern. Although the design lacks a comparison group for testing program effects, this longitudinal field study design allows for capturing program dose-response effects within a naturalistic context. Implementation of the VA-wide SPH program afforded the opportunity for rigorous evaluation in a naturalistic context. Findings will guide VA operations for policy and decision making about resources, and will be useful for health care, in general, outside of the VA, in implementation and impact of an SPH program.
PMCID: PMC3842006  PMID: 24246469
back injuries; occupational injuries; moving and lifting patients; methods; program evaluation
2.  Providers' Perceptions of Spinal Cord Injury Pressure Ulcer Guidelines 
Pressure ulcers are a serious complication for people with spinal cord injury (SCI). The Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine (CSCM) published clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) that provided guidance for pressure ulcer prevention and treatment after SCI. The aim of this study was to assess providers' perceptions for each of the 32 CPG recommendations regarding their agreement with CPGs, degree of CPG implementation, and CPG implementation barriers and facilitators.
This descriptive mixed-methods study included both qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (survey) data collection approaches. The sample (n = 60) included 24 physicians and 36 nurses who attended the 2004 annual national conferences of the American Paraplegia Society or American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses. This sample drew from two sources: a purposive sample from a list of preregistered participants and a convenience sample of conference attendee volunteers. We analyzed quantitative data using descriptive statistics and qualitative data using a coding scheme to capture barriers and facilitators.
The focus groups agreed unanimously on the substance of 6 of the 32 recommendations. Nurse and physician focus groups disagreed on the degree of CGP implementation at their sites, with nurses as a group perceiving less progress in implementation of the guideline recommendations. The focus groups identified only one recommendation, complications of surgery, as being fully implemented at their sites. Categories of barriers and facilitators for implementation of CPGs that emerged from the qualitative analysis included (a) characteristics of CPGs: need for research/evidence, (b) characteristics of CPGs: complexity of design and wording, (c) organizational factors, (d) lack of knowledge, and (e) lack of resources.
Although generally SCI physicians and nurses agreed with the CPG recommendations as written, they did not feel these recommendations were fully implemented in their respective clinical settings. The focus groups identified multiple barriers to the implementation of the CPGs and suggested several facilitators/solutions to improve implementation of these guidelines in SCI. Participants identified organizational factors and the lack of knowledge as the most substantial systems/issues that created barriers to CPG implementation.
PMCID: PMC2031945  PMID: 17591223
Decubitus ulcer; Skin ulcer; Pressure ulcer; Practice guidelines; Evidence-based medicine; Prevention; Spinal cord injuries

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