Prevalence of skin tears in a long-term care facility

J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2013 Nov-Dec;40(6):580-4. doi: 10.1097/WON.0b013e3182a9c111.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to collect baseline data of the prevalence of skin tears in a Canadian long-term care (LTC) facility.

Subjects and setting: The research setting was a 114-bed long-term care facility located in Eastern Ontario, Canada. The sample population comprised 113 residents from the facility.

Design: A cross-sectional, quantitative study design was used to gather baseline data on the prevalence of skin tears in the Canadian population living in LTC.

Methods: Residents were assessed for presence of skin tears, the number of skin tears, and location. Skin tears were categorized according to the validated Payne Martin Classification system. Data were collected using a predetermined data collection sheet developed for this study. A certified enterostomal therapy nurse with previous experience with the assessment of skin tears collected the data along with 1 nurse employed by the facility. Data were collected on a single day over a 6-hour period.

Results: Twenty-five of the 113 participating residents in the LTC facility had skin tears, yielding a prevalence of 22%. Category I accounted for 51% of skin tears, 16% were category II, and 33% were category III. Individuals who were found to have more than 1 skin tear had at least 1 category III skin tear. The most common anatomical locations were arms (48%), lower legs (40%), and hands (12%). Possible etiologic factors included blunt trauma such as banging into objects (44%), trauma associated with activities of daily living (20%), and falls (12%); 24% were categorized as idiopathic.

Conclusion: Study findings highlight gaps in our knowledge of skin tears and the need for additional studies to more clearly define their epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Skin / injuries*