Nurses' Interpretation of Patient Status Descriptions on the Braden Scale

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The risk of pressure ulcers is widely assessed using the Braden Scale for Predicting Pressure Ulcer Risk, which describes patient characteristics for various severity levels. However, many of these characteristics are described in vague terms that nurses may interpret inconsistently, potentially threatening scale reliability. To examine the consistency of nurses' interpretations of five vaguely described patient characteristics on the Braden Scale we surveyed a convenience sample of 102 nurses and compared their interpretations with those of two nurse experts. The results show large variations in nurses' interpretations. Although the highest frequency of nurses' responses to the majority of descriptions was consistent with the experts' interpretation, the large variation in responses may seriously threaten consistent and accurate assessment of pressure-ulcer risk with the Braden Scale. Our findings suggest that training programs provide operational definitions of these vague patient descriptions, so the Braden Scale can be used consistently in patient care.

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