A multi-faceted tailored strategy to implement an electronic clinical decision support system for pressure ulcer prevention in nursing homes: a two-armed randomized controlled trial

Int J Nurs Stud. 2013 Apr;50(4):475-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.09.007. Epub 2012 Oct 1.


Background: Frail older people admitted to nursing homes are at risk of a range of adverse outcomes, including pressure ulcers. Clinical decision support systems are believed to have the potential to improve care and to change the behaviour of healthcare professionals.

Objectives: To determine whether a multi-faceted tailored strategy to implement an electronic clinical decision support system for pressure ulcer prevention improves adherence to recommendations for pressure ulcer prevention in nursing homes.

Design: Two-armed randomized controlled trial in a nursing home setting in Belgium. The trial consisted of a 16-week implementation intervention between February and June 2010, including one baseline, four intermediate, and one post-testing measurement. Primary outcome was the adherence to guideline-based care recommendations (in terms of allocating adequate pressure ulcer prevention in residents at risk). Secondary outcomes were the change in resident outcomes (pressure ulcer prevalence) and intermediate outcomes (knowledge and attitudes of healthcare professionals).

Setting: Random sample of 11 wards (6 experimental; 5 control) in a convenience sample of 4 nursing homes in Belgium.

Participants: In total, 464 nursing home residents and 118 healthcare professionals participated.

Methods: The experimental arm was involved in a multi-faceted tailored implementation intervention of a clinical decision support system, including interactive education, reminders, monitoring, feedback and leadership. The control arm received a hard-copy of the pressure ulcer prevention protocol, supported by standardized 30 min group lecture.

Results: Patients in the intervention arm were significantly more likely to receive fully adequate pressure ulcer prevention when seated in a chair (F=16.4, P=0.003). No significant improvement was observed on pressure ulcer prevalence and knowledge of the professionals. While baseline attitude scores were comparable between both groups [exp. 74.3% vs. contr. 74.5% (P=0.92)], the mean score after the intervention was 83.5% in the experimental group vs. 72.1% in the control group (F=15.12, P<0.001).

Conclusion: The intervention was only partially successful to improve the primary outcome. Attitudes improved significantly while the knowledge of the healthcare workers remained unsatisfactorily low. Further research should focus on the underlying reasons for these findings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Belgium
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control*