Background Critically ill patients are at high risk for pressure ulcers. Successful prevention of pressure ulcers requires that caregivers have adequate knowledge of this complication.

Objective To assess intensive care nurses’ knowledge of pressure ulcers and the impact of an educational program on knowledge levels.

Methods A knowledge assessment test was developed. A cohort of registered nurses in a tertiary referral hospital in New Zealand had knowledge assessed 3 times: before an educational program, within 2 weeks after the program, and 20 weeks later. Multivariate analysis was performed to determine if attributes such as length of time since qualifying or level of intensive care unit experience were associated with test scores. The content and results of the assessment test were evaluated.

Results Completion of the educational program resulted in improved levels of knowledge. Mean scores on the assessment test were 84% at baseline and 89% following the educational program. The mean baseline score did not differ significantly from the mean 20-week follow-up score of 85%. No association was detected between demographic data and test scores. Content validity and standard setting were verified by using a variety of methods.

Conclusion Levels of knowledge to prevent and manage pressure ulcers were good initially and improved with an educational program, but soon returned to baseline.

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