Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 1999 Oct 9;354(9186):1229-33.
doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(98)10063-6.

Bed Rest: A Potentially Harmful Treatment Needing More Careful Evaluation


Bed Rest: A Potentially Harmful Treatment Needing More Careful Evaluation

C Allen et al. Lancet. .


Background: Bed rest is not only used in the management of patients who are not able to mobilise, but is also prescribed as a treatment for a large number of medical conditions, a procedure that has been challenged. We searched the literature for evidence of benefit or harm of bed rest for any condition.

Methods: We systematically searched MEDLINE and the Cochrane library, and retrieved reports on randomised controlled trials of bed rest versus early mobilisation for any medical condition, including medical procedures.

Findings: 39 trials of bed rest for 15 different conditions (total patients 5777) were found. In 24 trials investigating bed rest following a medical procedure, no outcomes improved significantly and eight worsened significantly in some procedures (lumbar puncture, spinal anaesthesia, radiculography, and cardiac catheterisation). In 15 trials investigating bed rest as a primary treatment, no outcomes improved significantly and nine worsened significantly for some conditions (acute low back pain, labour, proteinuric hypertension during pregnancy, myocardial infarction, and acute infectious hepatitis).

Interpretation: We should not assume any efficacy for bed rest. Further studies need to be done to establish evidence for the benefit or harm of bed rest as a treatment.

Comment in

  • Dangers of bed rest.
    Heaton KW. Heaton KW. Lancet. 1999 Dec 4;354(9194):2004. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)76785-4. Lancet. 1999. PMID: 10622336 No abstract available.
  • Enforced bedrest.
    Gebhardt KS, Bliss MR. Gebhardt KS, et al. Lancet. 2000 Mar 4;355(9206):844. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(05)72456-9. Lancet. 2000. PMID: 10711950 No abstract available.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 50 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

LinkOut - more resources