Pressure ulcer is a preventable medical complication of immobility


Nurses’ knowledge to pressure ulcer prevention in public hospitals in Wollega: a cross-sectional study design Werku Etafa Ebi1*, Getahun Fetensa Hirko1 and Diriba Ayala Mijena2


Background: Pressure ulcer is a preventable medical complication of immobility. It has psychological, economic and social impact on individual and family. Its cost of treatment is more than twice of cost of prevention. It is primarily the nurses’ responsibility to prevent pressure ulcer. The aim of this study was to assess the nurses’ knowledge to pressure ulcer prevention in public hospitals in Wollega.

Methods: A descriptive multicenter cross-sectional study design using quantitative method was employed to collect data from 212 randomly selected nurses. Data was collected using structured two validated self-administered instruments of pressure ulcer knowledge test evaluate nurses’ knowledge. Mean scores were compared using the Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Means, standard deviation, and frequencies were used to describe nurses’ knowledge levels and barriers to pressure ulcer prevention.

Results: Analysis of the study displayed 91.5% had inadequate knowledge to pressure ulcer prevention. The mean of nurses’ knowledge in all theme and per item were 11.31 (SD = 5.97) and 0.43 (SD = 0.22).respectively. The study participants had the highest mean item score (2.65 ± 0.87) in nutrition theme, whereas, scored lowest on etiology and development (0.27 ± 0.18) and preventive measures to reduce duration of pressure (0.29 ± 0.18), The study also identified significant nurses read articles (0.000) and received training (p = 0.003). Shortage of pressure relieving devices, lack of staff and lack of training were the most commonly cited perceived barriers to practice pressure ulcer prevention.

Conclusions: This study highlights areas where measures can be made to facilitate pressure ulcer prevention in public hospitals in Wollega zones, such as increase regular adequate further training of nurses regarding pressure ulcer/its prevention points.

Keywords: Pressure ulcer, Prevention, Nurses, Knowledge

Background Pressure ulcers (PUs) prevention remains a significant challenge for nurses [1, 2], and its incidence is consi- dered an indicator of poor quality of care [3–5]. Patients and families know that pressure ulcers are painful and slow to heal [5]. Some risk factors for the development of pressure ulcers/injuries include advanced age, immo- bility, incontinence, inadequate nutrition and hydration, neuro-sensory deficiency, device-related skin pressure,

multiple comorbidities and circulatory abnormalities [5–7]. Ninety-five percent (95%) of pressure ulcers are avoidable [8, 9]. The incidence of pressure ulcers in adults varies from

0 to 12% in acute care settings, 24.3 to 53.4% in critical care settings and 1.9 to 59% in elderly care settings [6]. The prevalence of pressure ulcer has decreased over time in the USA (2004–2011 [10], 2006–2009 [11]). Two dif- ferent cross-sectional studies conducted at Felegehiwot and Dessie referral hospital, in Ethiopia reported 16.8 and 14.9% overall prevalence rate of PU, respectively [12, 13]. Moreover, these studies identified risk factors PU such as prolonged hospitalization, slight limit of sensory

© The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

* Correspondence: 1Department of Nursing, Institute of Health Science, Wollega University, P.O. Box 395, Nekemte, Ethiopia Full list of author information is available at the end of the article

Ebi et al. BMC Nursing (2019) 18:20

perception, lack of regular positioning and activity, friction/shear [12, 13]. The cost for treating pressure ulcer increased proportion-

ally to the increase of the area and the development of PU category [14]. PU treatment cost per patient per day varied between 2.65 € to 87.57€ across all settings and ranged from 1.71€ to 470.49€ across different settings [15]. When caregivers practice the best care every time,

patients can avoid needless suffering [5]. Pressure area care is an essential component of nursing practice, with all patients potentially at risk of developing a pressure ulcer [16]. It is nurses’ primary responsibility for maintaining skin integrity [17, 18] and prevention of its complications [19]. Recognizing patients at risk of developing PU in early time is an essential part of the prevention care pathway [20]. The time nurses and healthcare assistant spent to patient care accounts for 90% of the overall costs for treating PUs, and 96% of the price in category I and II pressure ulcers [21]. Several studies have been undertaken to evaluate nurses’

knowledge to pressure ulcer prevention using different in- struments, cutoff point and professional nurses (assistant, registered and students). A cross-sectional multicenter study [22] among nurses in Belgian hospitals reported that only 23.5% (130/553) of the nurses had scored ≥60% mean knowledge of pressure ulcer prevention. Demarr’e et al. [23] also displayed a low mean score (28.9%) of knowledge for registered nurses and nursing assistants (n = 145) in nursing home settings. In contrast, a survey in a Swedish healthcare setting among nursing staff showed that all respondents displayed good knowledge on prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers. Gunningberg et al. [24] studied prevention of PUs in a hospital wards and found more than half of the participants had a knowledge deficit (< 60% mean score). Simonetti et al. [25] reported nursing students (n = 742)

PU knowledge score below the mean (51.1%, 13.3/26) about PU prevention. Similarly, Qaddumi & Khawaldeh [26] found that the majority (73%) of Jordanian nurses had scored lower than the mean knowledge about pressure ulcer prevention. Meanwhile, nurses had scored the lowest in themes related to PU etiology, preventive measures to reduce amount of pressure/shear, and risk assessment. Tirgari et al. [27] displayed Iranian Intensive Care Unit

(ICU) nurses had score lower knowledge than the average, meanwhile, it showed the highest mean score and the lowest mean scores in theme etiology and develop- ment, classification and observation. Gul A et al. [28] found that among 308 nurses in an acute care Turkish hospital using modified and translated version of the Pieper PUKT most participants (58.4%) answered at least 60% of the questions correctly and scores were highest for the prevention/risk assessment and lowest for the PU

staging domain. Using a multicenter cross-sectional study design Usher et al. [29] reported the overall mean knowledge score 51.1% which less than cutoff point (60%) among Australian nursing students. Similarly, it identified the lowest nursing students’ knowledge score on the themes preventive measures to reduce the amount of pressure/shear (44.1%) and the duration of pressure/shear (48.5%). However, Panagiotopoulou and Kerr [30], found good

level of knowledge among Greek nurses in relation to risk factors and areas at risk for pressure ulcer, with the aver- age level of agreement with expert opinion being 70.5%. Similarly, Tweed and Tweed [31] evaluated critical care nurses’ knowledge level of pressure ulcer care using a testing tool developed specifically for that study and reported adequate knowledge to pressure ulcer prevention nursing staffs. A cross-sectional survey conducted among 248 nurses in Gondar University hospital using instru- ment developed by authors reported that early more than half (54.4%) of the nurses had good knowledge of PU prevention of [32]. Panagiotopoulou and Kerr [30], found that lack of

staff/manpower (94. 9%), lack of equipment (78. 8%) and overcrowding in the ward (79.1%) as the most frequently identified nurses’ barriers to practice PU prevention. Similarly, Qaddumi & Khawaldeh [26] also measured lack of time (34.1%), shortage of staff (24.4%,), the patient’s condition (17.8%), and lack of resources or equipment (19.3%) as the major barriers nurses face to prevent pressure ulcer. Moore and Price [33] identified lack of staff and time meanwhile Kallman and Suserud [34] reported lack of time, equipment, resources, and patient condition are the most frequently cited barriers. The study at Mulago, Ugandan teaching hospital also found heavy workload related to shortage of staff (94.6%) and shortage of pressure relieving devices un- cooperative patient (62.5%), poor access to pressure ulcer literature (37.5%) and inadequate coverage about pressure ulcers during training (23.2%) [35]. Samuriwo, & Dowding [36] indicated that nurses rely on their own knowledge and experience rather than research evidence to decide what skin care to deliver. In Ethiopia, it not nurses’ culture to assess patients

who are at risk or had developed PU before admitted to wards though PU is an emerging problem in developing counties in line with increasing population aging and the burden of chronic non-communicable disease. It is also obvious that there are limitations of resources used to enhance nurses’ knowledge and skill with updated evidence based works that could improve quality of nursing care in Ethiopia. For instance poor access to internet, absence of libraries to acquire reading materials (articles or updates about PU), limited in service training about PU or its prevention. Currently, there is no

Ebi et al. BMC Nursing (2019) 18:20 Page 2 of 12

evidence on nurses’ knowledge regarding PU preven- tion in public hospitals in Wollega zones, West Ethiopia. Therefore, this cross sectional study was undertaken to assess nurses’ knowledge and perceived barriers to practice PU prevention.

Objectives The objective of this study was to evaluate nurses’ know- ledge to PU prevention and to determine nurses’ per- ceived barriers to PU prevention in public hospitals in Wollega, Oromiya, Ethiopia.

Methods Study design and setting Institutional based cross-sectional multi-center study using quantitative method was conducted from August 13–22, 2018. Thera are 10 public hospitals functional in Wollega zones. The study setting includes five public hos- pitals including one teaching hospital (Wollega University Referral Hospital), five Public Referral Hospitals: Nekemte, Gimbi, Nedjo, and Shambu Referral hospitals. Among ten hospitals, the investigators purposively selected five hospi- tals where large number of patients visit, referred and admitted. Wollega’s main town (Nekemte) is 330 km to the west from the capital city of the country, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. . Swedish missionaries introduced the modern nursing to

Ethiopia around 1866. Then, Russia and French were delivering the nursing service in limited areas of Ethiopia. After the Second World War (1949), the Ethiopian Red Cross Society established the first nursing school in at Haile Selassie I hospital. Swedish Missionaries at the Princess Tsehai Memorial Hospital opened the second nursing school. These two nursing schools were only admitting females to train in nursing pro- fession. Males were admitted to nursing programs in 1954 in Ethiopia in Nekemte nursing school found in the current study area, Wollega zones. Currently, in Ethiopia nursing profession could be educated after completed grade ten (enjoy college to be enrolled in nursing assistants) or twelve (enjoy Universities and enrolled in actual diploma in nursing after 4 years completion of study in nursing profession) [37].

Sample size and sampling procedure The sample size was determined by using a single popu- lation proportion formula with the assumption of 54.4% Proportion [Gondar], 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error. Since the source of the population was less than 10,000 (n = 420), a correction formula was used. Using 10% nonresponse the final sample size obtained was 220. Then, the number of participants in each selected hospital to take a similar proportion of participants were determined using the proportionate population sampling.

Study instrument The questionnaire was administered in English language since it is a medium of instruction in nursing education in Ethiopia. A questionnaire used for data collection contained three parts (Additional file 1). Part one of the data collection was developed and included demographic characteristics such as gender, age, years of clinical ex- perience in the nursing profession, level of current higher education, sources of PU knowledge, read articles about PU and training exposure to PU prevention. Part two of data collection tool was Pressure Ulcer

Knowledge Test Tool (PUKT), in an English version, to assess participant knowledge about pressure injuries that has acceptable reliability and validity, developed and validated by Beeckman et al. [38]. This instrument was validated for difficulty, discriminating index, and quality of the response alternatives. The internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s α) was 0.77, and the 1-week test- retest interclass correlation coefficient (stability) was 0.88. Content validity index was 0.78 to 1.00. The item difficulty index of the questions ranged from 0.27 to 0.87, whereas values for item discrimination ranged from 0.29 to 0.65 [39]. The PUKT includes 26 multiple-choice questions in 6

categories: etiology and development (6), classification and observation (5), risk assessment (2), nutrition (1), preventive measures to reduce the amount of pressure (7), and preventive measures to reduce the duration of pressure (5) items. Each question has four answer options, and the fourth option is ‘I do not know the answer’ and scored zero points, which is included to prevent respon- dents from guessing the answer. Nurses who answered the item correctly scored one point, while who cannot answer correctly scored zero. This result in a final score between 0 and 26. Zero (0) and 26 scores represent nurses who incorrectly and correctly answered all nurses’ PU knowledge testing items from the total 26 items, respec- tively. The permission to use questionnaire communicated and obtained through the corresponding author electronic mail address from the corresponding author Beeckman [39]. Four nursing educators holding assistant professor and experienced researchers ensured the cultural and linguistic validity of instrument before the actual study conducted and determined the time required to complete filling the questionnaire after implemented comments. The third part of the data collection tool was a list

of barriers to the implementation of PU prevention. These instruments were adapted from the literature [26, 33, 35]. Some of items in the tool were modified as they are not applicable in Wollega nurses. Two types of options (‘Yes’ or ‘No’) were provided for nurses to select barriers that hinder nurses from exercising PU prevention points. It was used to identify nurses’ perceived barriers to practice PU prevention.

Ebi et al. BMC Nursing (2019) 18:20 Page 3 of 12

Data collection Firstly, we made contact with each hospital medical director and matron to grant a permission with a copy of approved ethical clearance letter obtained from Wollega University Department of Nursing Ethical Review Committee to undertake the study. All medical direc- tors and matrons readily accepted our request. Secondly, the head nurses asked for their cooperation to give the permanent nurses staff list in their unit. Nurses who had no an experience of direct patient care, were on vacation, and employed and had clinical nursing experience less than 1 year were exclude from the study. Nurses from all units in each hospital who fulfill the inclusion criteria were included in the study. In each hospital, matron were responsible for super-

vising the staff nurses participated in the study to ensure no resources/any references materials were needed. Two bachelors of Science degree nurses were responsible for participant recruitment and distribution of the question- naire. Staff nurses were randomly selected from their list given using lottery method until the required number of nurses obtained. Data facilitators informed staff nurses about the study verbally, and distributed the participant information sheet and consent form to those who volun- tarily agreed to participate. The self-administered questionnaire was distributed to

each nurse during working hours at each hospitals. Voluntary participant staff nurses were informed not use any resources or ask other staffs for answers while completing the questionnaire. Staff nurses who were not volunteer were permitted not to participate. Staff nurses were allowed to leave complete the questionnaire. The time estimated to complete the questionnaire was a minimum of 30min.

Data analysis The data cleaning was done, entered into the computer using EPI data version 3.1 statistical packages, and checked for the consistency of data entry. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20.0 (IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY) used for data analysis. Categorical variables computed as frequencies and per- centages. Continuous variables compiled as mean and standard deviation (SD). The Mann- Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis H tests were used to compare the mean score of independent groups. The statistical significance was set at p-value < 0.05.

Results Sociodemographic characteristics of nurses The total number of eligible nurses was 220; of these, 212 were volunteered to participate in the study, a response rate of 96.3%. Most of them were males (131, 61.8%). The mean age among the study participants was

28.2 ± 5.2 (range 21–54) years. Majority of study partici- pants (148, 69.8%) were a diploma holder in nursing, 71.2% had 5–10 years of clinical experience in the nursing profession. One hundred sixty (160, 75.5%) of the partici- pants attended education on PU; almost half (49.5%) of them got PU education at University/ college education. One hundred fifty-six (156, 73.6%) did not read articles about pressure ulcer, while, 138 (65.1%) of the participants had no exposure to PU training as illustrated in (Table 1).

Nurses’ knowledge to prevent pressure ulcer Analysis of knowledge items showed that the mean score of nurses’ knowledge about pressure ulcer prevention was 0.43 ± 0.22. Among the six categories of PU know- ledge assessment, the nutrition category had the highest

Table 1 Demographic characteristics of the nurses (N = 212)

Variables Frequency Percentage



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