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Bed and shower baths: comparing the perceptions of patients with acute myocardial infarction


Correspondence: Juliana de Lima Lopes, Cardiology Nurse Specialist, Nursing Department, Federal University of São Paulo, 754 Napoleão de Barros Street, Vila Clementino, 04024-002 São Paulo, SP, Brazil. Telephone: +55 11 7698 2117.



Aims and objectives

To compare the perceptions of patients with acute myocardial infarction concerning bed and shower baths and evaluate how antecedent variables influence their perceptions.


Professionals are often oblivious to the fact that, when performing a bed bath, they are manipulating someone else's body and invading someone's privacy and intimacy. This lack of awareness may trigger various responses in patients, such as dissatisfaction and anxiety. Several studies assessing the perceptions of patients when receiving a bed bath, and most are qualitative. Thus, there is a need to quantify these perceptions.


The research was a crossover study.


The sample consisted of 71 patients with acute myocardial infarction, admitted to coronary units. Patients were evaluated on two occasions: after their second bed bath and after their second shower bath. A Semantic Differential Scale was constructed and validated prior to data collection.


The perception of patients receiving shower baths was significantly more positive than those of patients receiving bed baths (<0·0001). The only variable that interfered with the general perception of patients was prior hospitalisation (p = 0·0468). Patients who previously experienced a hospitalisation had a less positive perception, concerning both the bed and shower baths, than those who were hospitalised for the first time.


The perceptions of patients receiving bed baths were less positive than those of patients receiving shower baths.

Relevance to clinical practice

The perceptions of patients receiving baths are very important to guiding nursing care and developing strategies to minimise patient dissatisfaction.