Prevention of pressure ulcers in the intensive care unit: a randomized trial of 2 viscoelastic foam support surfaces

Clin Nurse Spec. 2015 Jul-Aug;29(4):210-7. doi: 10.1097/NUR.0000000000000136.


Aims and objectives: The aim of this study is to compare whether differences exist between 2 viscoelastic foam support surfaces in the development of new pressure ulcers.

Background: There is evidence to support the use of viscoelastic foam over standard hospital foam to reduce pressure. A comparative effectiveness study was done to compare 2 viscoelastic foam support surfaces.

Design: A randomized controlled trial was carried out.

Method: The study was performed in 2 intensive care units between October 1, 2008, and January 4, 2010. Patients (n = 105) admitted to intensive care unit were randomly assigned to viscoelastic foam 1 (n = 53) or viscoelastic foam 2 support surface (n = 52).

Results: In total, 42.8% of all patients developed a new pressure ulcer of stage 1 or worse. By stages, pressure ulcer incidence was 28.6%, 13.3%, and 1.0% for stages 1, 2, and 3, respectively. There was no significant difference in pressure ulcer incidence between the viscoelastic foam 1 and 2 groups (X2 = 0.07, df = 1, P > .05).

Conclusions: No difference was found between 2 different viscoelastic foam surfaces in the prevention of pressure ulcers in patients treated in intensive care.

Relevance to clinical practice: Pressure ulcer incidence in critically ill patients remains high. Nurses must compare current products for effectiveness and develop innovative systems, processes, or devices to deliver best practices.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Clinicians
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viscoelastic Substances / therapeutic use*
  • Young Adult


  • Viscoelastic Substances