Aim. To report a study to compare the effects of different lying positions on tissue blood flow and skin temperature in older adult patients. This article reports the evaluation of study design and procedures.
Background. To reduce risk of pressure ulcers, repositioning of immobile patients is a standard nursing practice; however, research into how different lying positions effect tissue microcirculation is limited.
Design. Descriptive comparative design.
Methods. From March–October 2010, 20 inpatients, aged 65 years or older, were included in the study. Tissue blood flow and skin temperature were measured over bony prominences and in gluteus muscle in four supine and two lateral positions.
Results. The blood flow over the bony prominence areas was most influenced in the superficial skin and especially in the 30° lateral position, where the blood flow decreased significantly in comparison with the supine positions. There were significant individual differences in blood flow responses, but no common trend was identified among the patients considered at risk for pressure ulcer development. The study procedure worked well and was feasible to perform in an inpatient population.
Conclusion. The lying positions seem to influence the tissue blood flow over the bony prominences in different ways in older adult inpatients, but further study is needed to confirm the results and to make recommendations to clinical practice. The study procedure worked well, although some minor adjustments with regard to heat accumulation will be made in future studies.