Preventing pressure ulcers in nursing homes: the development and feasibility assessment of a theory and research-informed care bundle intervention

Student thesis: Phd


Background: Many nursing home residents are at risk of developing a pressure ulcer, which is an area of localised damage to the skin and/or underlying tissue due to immobility, increasing age and co-morbidities. Whilst guidelines for the prevention of pressure ulcers exist, their implementation can be sub-optimal. Care bundles are a set of research-informed practices used to facilitate the implementation of evidence into practice and incorporating psychological theory within their development may enhance their effectiveness. I aimed to co-design and assess the feasibility of implementing a theory and research-informed pressure ulcer prevention care bundle intervention in a nursing home setting. Method: This thesis comprised four separate studies as part of an overall mixed methods research design. Firstly, I conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the effects of care bundles per se on patient outcomes. I then conducted theory-informed qualitative, semi-structured interviews with nursing home care staff and NHS community-based nurses to explore the context of, and the barriers and facilitators to, pressure ulcer prevention in nursing homes. Next I co-designed a pressure ulcer prevention care bundle with 13 healthcare workers during a four hour workshop and supplemental email consultation. Using the Nominal Group Technique, we reached a consensus about the content of the care bundle. Following the steps of the Behaviour Change Wheel, I finalised the care bundle intervention. The final study involved a before-after study design where one nursing home implemented the care bundle intervention. I collected and analysed quantitative and qualitative data to gain a more holistic understanding of the feasibility issues related to the implementation. Findings: Findings from the systematic review suggested that care bundles may reduce the risk of negative outcomes in patients. These findings were based on very low quality evidence and the original study authors rarely reported adherence to the care bundle interventions. The theoretical understanding of the complexities in the prevention of pressure ulcers in nursing homes suggested there were four barriers and six facilitators, which my final care bundle intervention addressed. The co-designed care bundle intervention comprised three elements: support surfaces, skin inspection, repositioning; alongside three intervention functions and seven behaviour change techniques. In the final feasibility study, during the baseline period, there were 462 resident bed days and 5 new pressure ulcers recorded and in the intervention phase there were 1,181 resident bed days and no new pressure ulcers. The care bundle intervention appeared to be acceptable to the nursing home care staff and we have identified specific issues relating to the feasibility of implementing the care bundle intervention. Conclusions: The current research evidence-base for care bundles is poor. However, it was possible to co-design and implement a pressure ulcer prevention care bundle intervention for a nursing home setting. Further feasibility research is necessary before we can assess whether the care bundle intervention is effective in preventing pressure ulcers in nursing homes.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTrish Gray (Supervisor), Nicola Cullum (Supervisor) & Jo Dumville (Supervisor)


  • acceptability
  • implementation fidelity
  • Behaviour Change Wheel
  • complex intervention
  • nursing homes
  • pressure ulcer prevention
  • care bundle
  • Theoretical Domains Framework

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