n Southern African Journal of Critical Care - Nurses' accuracy in estimating backrest elevation

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-8264
  • E-ISSN: 2078-676X



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that the head of the bed of mechanically ventilated patients be elevated to between 30° and 45° to decrease the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) Compliance with this recommendation may be affected by nurses' knowledge of the recommendation and their accuracy in estimating the backrest elevation.

To determine the difference between nurses' estimation of backrest angle and the actual measured angle; to determine the relationship between nurses' demographic characteristics and the accuracy of estimation; to determine nurses' knowledge of why this recommendation has been made.
A convenience sample of 39 nurses working in the selected ICUs of the study hospital was used. The angles of elevation were preselected in each area. Estimated angles were correlated with measured angles and this was correlated with demographic characteristics.
Forty-two per cent of the nurses were accurate in their estimation of bedrest angle (correlation, 0.6232). Demographic characteristics had little effect on accuracy.
Nurses could benefit from assistance in accurately estimating backrest elevation angle, as well as from education regarding strategies to decrease the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia.

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