Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 286–294 | Cite as

Impact of a Safe Resident Handling Program in Nursing Homes on Return-to-Work and Re-injury Outcomes Following Work Injury

  • Alicia KurowskiEmail author
  • Glenn Pransky
  • Laura Punnett


Purpose This study examined the impact of a Safe Resident Handling Program (SRHP) on length of disability and re-injury, following work-related injuries of nursing home workers. Resident handling-related injuries and back injuries were of particular interest. Methods A large national nursing home corporation introduced a SRHP followed by three years of training for 136 centers. Lost-time workers’ compensation claims (3 years pre-SRHP and 6 years post-SRHP) were evaluated. For each claim, length of first episode of disability and recurrence of disabling injury were evaluated over time. Differences were assessed using Chi square analyses and a generalized linear model, and “avoided” costs were projected. Results The SRHP had no impact on length of disability, but did appear to significantly reduce the rate of recurrence among resident handling-related injuries. As indemnity and medical costs were three times higher for claimants with recurrent disabling injuries, the SRHP resulted in significant “avoided” costs due to “avoided” recurrence. Conclusions In addition to reducing overall injury rates, SRHPs appear to improve long-term return-to-work success by reducing the rate of recurrent disabling injuries resulting in work disability. In this study, the impact was sustained over years, even after a formal training and implementation program ended. Since back pain is inherently a recurrent condition, results suggest that SRHPs help workers remain at work and return-to-work.


Injury recurrence Return-to-work Nursing homes Safe resident handling 



This study was supported by Grant Number U19-OH008857 from the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH. We thank YoonSun Choi for assistance with downloading the workers’ compensation dataset, Rebecca Gore for providing center identification information, and Manuel Cifuentes for advice on statistical analysis. We also thank Santosh Verma and Yulan Liang for review and comment on a preliminary version of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Alicia Kurowski, Glenn Pransky, and Laura Punnett declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine and Community HealthUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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