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Adv Skin Wound Care. 2003 Nov;16(6):317-27.

Randomized clinical trial comparing 2 support surfaces: results of the Prevention of Pressure Ulcers Study.

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Queen's Hospital, Burton-on-Trent, UK.



To determine whether a viscoelastic polymer (energy absorbing) foam mattress was superior to a standard hospital mattress for pressure ulcer prevention and to analyze the cost-effectiveness in comparison with standard hospital mattresses.


Unblinded, randomized, prospective trial.


Elderly acute care, rehabilitation, and orthopedic wards at 3 hospitals in the United Kingdom.


1168 patients at risk of developing pressure ulcers (Waterlow score, 15 to 20), with a median age of 83 years (25th to 75th percentile range, 79-87).


Participants were allocated to either the experimental equipment (CONFOR-Med mattress/cushion combination) or a standard mattress/cushion combination; all were given standard nursing care. Pressure areas were observed daily.


Development of nonblanching erythema.


A significant decrease in the incidence of blanching erythema (26.3% to 19.9%; P =.004) and a nonsignificant decrease in the incidence of nonblanching erythema occurred in participants allocated to the experimental equipment. However, when the survival curve plots were analyzed at 7 days, both categories showed statistically significant decreases (P =.0015 and P =.042, respectively). Participants on standard equipment had a relative odds ratio of 1.36 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10-1.69) for developing blanching erythema or worse and 1.46 (95% CI, 0.90-1.82) for developing nonblanching erythema or worse. To prevent nonblanching erythema, the number needed to treat (NNT) was 41.9 (95% CI, -82.6-15.3). To prevent any erythema (blanching or nonblanching), the NNT was 11.5 (95% CI, 41.6-9.3). Participants with blanching or nonblanching erythema were significantly less mobile than participants with normal skin and more likely to have worsening mobility (P <.001). For participants with similar pressure ulcer status, mattress type was not associated with difference in mobility.


Regardless of prevention routine, pressure ulcers occur. In this study, the experimental equipment showed statistical significance to standard equipment for prevention of blanching erythema; significance was not achieved for nonblanching erythema. Trend and survival analysis show that a larger study is required to determine whether this nonsignificant difference is genuine.

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