The prevalence and incidence of pressure ulcers in hospitalised patients in The Netherlands: A prospective inception cohort study

prePURSE-study group, Aug-2007, In : International Journal of Nursing Studies. 44, 6, p. 927-935 9 p.

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  • prePURSE-study group

Background: Pressure ulcers frequently occur in hospitalised patients. The prevalence of pressure ulcers grade 2 or worse varies from 3% to 12% in hospitalised patients. Incidence figures are not frequently reported. While incidence and prevalence are both measures of disease frequency, they provide different perspectives on pressure ulcers.

Objectives: To describe the incidence rate and prevalence of pressure ulcers in hospitalised patients.

Design: Prospective inception cohort study.

Setting: Two large hospitals, one general (530-beds) and one teaching (1042-beds), in The Netherlands. Participants: A non-selected, though not strictly random, sample of 1536 patients was eligible for inclusion in the study. One thousand four hundred and thirty one patients (93.2%) consented to participate. Eventually, 1229 patients (80%) had a complete follow-up. The sample consisted of patients admitted to the surgical, internal, neurological and geriatric wards for more than 5 days between January 1999 and June 2000.

Methods: Follow-up once a week until pressure ulcer occurrence, discharge or length of stay over 12 weeks. Main outcome measures: Occurrence of a pressure ulcer grade 2 or worse during admission to hospital, according to the classification of the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.

Results: One hundred and thirty four patients developed 172 pressure ulcers during follow-up. The overall weekly incidence rate was 0.06 per week (95% confidence interval 0.05-0.07 per week). Highest rates were observed for surgical patients and lowest for geriatric and neurologic patients (0.08 and 0.02, respectively). The week specific prevalence varied between 12.8% and 20.3%.

Conclusions: Among patients hospitalised for more than 5 days overall one may expect 6% per week to develop pressure ulcers. It would appear that any preventive measures can only be effective if taken timely. Accordingly, preventive measures should be considered early, because pressure ulcers were observed already within the first week of admission. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-935
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2007
Externally publishedYes


  • cohort studies, decubitus ulcers, epidemiologic studies, incidence, prevalence, prospective studies, RISK-ASSESSMENT, SORES, PREVENTION, SURGERY

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