Title. Effectiveness of turning with unequal time intervals on the incidence of pressure ulcer lesions
Aim. This paper reports a study investigating whether repositioning patients lying on a pressure-reducing mattress alternately for 2 hours in a lateral position and 4 hours in a supine position reduces the incidence of pressure ulcers in comparison with repositioning every 4 hours.
Background. Repositioning is commonly recognized as an effective preventive measure. Almost no research has been carried out so far on the necessary turning frequencies to prevent pressure ulcer lesions. The pressure is higher in a lateral than in a supine position.
Method. A two-arm randomized controlled trial was conducted in 16 Belgian elder care nursing homes. Patients with non-blanchable erythema were randomly assigned to either an experimental or a control group. In the experimental group (n = 122), patients were repositioned alternately 2 hours in a lateral position and 4 hours in a supine position. In the control group (n = 113), patients were repositioned every 4 hours. The sitting protocol was identical in both groups. Pressure areas were observed daily and classified according to the four grades of the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.
Results. In the experimental group, 16·4% patients developed a pressure ulcer lesion (grade 2–4), while 21·2% did so in the control group. The incidence was not statistically significantly different between the two groups (P = 0·40). The severity (P = 0·65) and location (P = 0·19) of pressure ulcer lesions, and the time to developing them (P = 0·29) were also similar in both groups. No patient developed a pressure ulcer at the hips. A considerable number of patients changed from a lateral to a supine position between the turning intervals.
Conclusion. More frequent repositioning on a pressure-reducing mattress does not necessarily lead to fewer pressure ulcer lesions and consequently cannot be considered as a more effective preventive measure.