Obesity contributes to immobility and subsequent pressure on skin surfaces. Knowledge of the relationship between obesity and development of pressure ulcers in intensive care patients will provide better understanding of which patients are at high risk for pressure ulcers and allow more efficient prevention.


To examine the incidence of pressure ulcers in patients who differ in body mass index and to determine whether inclusion of body mass index enhanced use of the Braden scale in the prediction of pressure ulcers.


In this retrospective cohort study, data were collected from the medical records of 4 groups of patients with different body mass index values: underweight, normal weight, obese, and extremely obese. Data included patients’ demographics, body weight, score on the Braden scale, and occurrence of pressure ulcers.


The incidence of pressure ulcers in the underweight, normal weight, obese, and extremely obese groups was 8.6%, 5.5%, 2.8%, and 9.9%, respectively. When both the score on the Braden scale and the body mass index were predictive of pressure ulcers, extremely obese patients were about 2 times more likely to experience an ulcer than were normal weight patients. In the final model, the area under the curve was 0.71. The baseline area under the curve for the Braden scale was 0.68.


Body mass index and incidence of pressure ulcers were related in intensive care patients. Addition of body mass index did not appreciably improve the accuracy of the Braden scale for predicting pressure ulcers.

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