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  • Publication # 13-RA012

Effectiveness of pressure ulcer treatment strategies unclear

Comparative Effectiveness Research

There is limited evidence to draw firm conclusions about the best approaches for treating pressure ulcers, according to a new research review by AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program. This finding is consistent with other recent reviews on this topic. It is also generally unknown whether the effectiveness of treatment strategies differs by settings and their characteristics, patient characteristics, or features of pressure ulcers.

However, some evidence suggests wound improvement (reduction in ulcer size) was better on air-fluidized beds compared to other support surfaces, including standard hospital beds.  Using protein-containing nutritional supplementation also resulted in wound improvement when used with other measures for treating pressure ulcers. 

Given the serious impact pressure ulcers have on health status and patient quality of life, as well as health care costs, treatments are needed that promote and shorten healing and minimize the risk of complications. Standards of care for pressure ulcer treatment are typically guided by clinical practice guidelines, but also are informed by patient-related factors such as coexisting conditions and nutritional status, local practice patterns, and the stage and features of the wound.

These findings can be found in the research review, Pressure Ulcer Treatment Strategies: A Comparative Effectiveness Review at

Page last reviewed September 2013
Internet Citation: Effectiveness of pressure ulcer treatment strategies unclear: Comparative Effectiveness Research. September 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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