A study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) shows high specification foam mattresses are a more cost-effective and often patient-preferred mattress compared to alternating pressure mattresses. Additionally, despite the new technology and higher cost of the alternating pressure mattress, the study concluded them to be equally as effective at preventing pressure ulcers as high specification foam.
The study examined more than 2,000 patients at high risk of developing pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers are injuries to the skin due to prolonged pressure which restricts blood flow to the area. Pressure redistribution mattresses reduce the total pressure on any specific area over time allowing capillaries to refill.
Patients in the study were randomly assigned to high-specification foam mattresses or alternating pressure mattresses and monitored for a maximum treatment period of 60-days. Here were the results at the final follow-up:
- 160 patients developed at least one pressure ulcer (grade 2 or higher): 70 in the alternating pressure group and 90 in the high specification foam group
- 90 patients (40%) changed from an alternating pressure mattress to a high specification foam mattress because they reported being uncomfortable compared to 28 (12%) in the other direction.
- 49 patients (22%) were moved from an alternating pressure mattress to a high specification foam mattress to aid rehabilitation compared to 5 (2%) in the other direction.
The study reported that patient preference and rehabilitation must be considered when choosing the appropriate mattress for patients at high risk of developing pressure ulcers.
Read the full study here.