• pressure ulcer prevention;
  • exercise;
  • incontinence

OBJECTIVES:  To examine skin health outcomes of an exercise and incontinence intervention.

DESIGN:   Randomized controlled trial with blinded assessments of outcomes at three points over 8 months.

SETTING:   Four nursing homes (NHs).

PARTICIPANTS:   One hundred ninety incontinent NH residents.

INTERVENTION:   In the intervention group, research staff provided exercise and incontinence care every 2 hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (total of four daily care episodes) 5 days a week for 32 weeks. The control group received usual care from NH staff.

MEASUREMENTS:   Perineal skin wetness and skin health outcomes (primarily blanchable erythema and pressure ulcers) as measured by direct assessments by research staff, urinary and fecal incontinence frequency, and percentage of behavioral observations with resident engaged in standing or walking.

RESULTS:   Intervention subjects were significantly better in urinary and fecal incontinence, physical activity, and skin wetness outcome measures than the control group. However, despite these improvements, differences in skin health measures were limited to the back distal perineal area, which included the sacral and trochanter regions. There was no difference between groups in the incidence rate of pressure ulcers as measured by research staff, even though those residents who improved the most on fecal incontinence showed improvement in pressure ulcers in one area.

CONCLUSION:   A multifaceted intervention improved four risk factors related to skin health but did not translate into significant improvements in most measures of skin health. Even if they had adequate staffing resources, NHs might not be able to improve skin health quality indicators significantly if they attempt to implement preventive interventions on all residents who are judged at risk because of their incontinence status.