Factors contributing to evidence-based pressure ulcer prevention. A cross-sectional study

Int J Nurs Stud. 2014 May;51(5):717-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Oct 4.


Background: Implementation of evidence-based care for pressure ulcer prevention is lacking. As the hospital organization is complex, more knowledge is needed to understand how nursing care in this area can be improved.

Objectives: The present study investigated the associations between variables on different levels in the healthcare setting (patient, unit, hospital) and the documentation of (1) risk assessment and (2) skin assessment within 24h of admission, the use of (3) pressure-reducing mattresses and (4) planned repositioning in bed.

Design: A cross-sectional study.

Settings: One university hospital and one general hospital.

Participants: Geriatric (n=8), medical (n=24) and surgical (n=19) units. All adult patients (>17 years), in total 825, were included.

Methods: A one-day prevalence study was conducted using the methodology specified by the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, together with the established methods used by the Collaborative Alliance for Nursing Outcomes. Independent variables were patient characteristics, hospital type, unit type, nurse staffing and workload. Dependent variables were documented risk and skin assessment within 24h of admission, pressure-reducing mattresses and planned repositioning in bed. The data were analysed with Logistic regression using the Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) approach.

Results: Patients at risk of developing pressure ulcers (Braden<17) had higher odds of having risk assessment documented, and of receiving pressure-reducing mattresses and planned repositioning. Patients at the general hospital were less likely to have risk and skin assessment documented and to receive pressure-reducing mattresses. On the other hand, planned repositioning was more likely to be used at the general hospital. When total hours of nursing care was lower, patients had higher odds of having pressure-reducing mattresses but were less likely to have planned repositioning.

Conclusion: Patient characteristics (high age and risk score) and hospital type were associated with pressure ulcer prevention. Surprisingly, nurse staffing played only a minor role. Leaders in healthcare organizations should establish routines on different levels that support evidence-based pressure ulcer prevention, and registered nurses need to assume responsibility for bedside care.

Keywords: Associations; Hospital type; Nurse staffing; Patient characteristic; Pressure ulcer prevention; Unit type; Workload.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Evidence-Based Nursing*
  • Humans