BACKGROUND: Baseline data are needed to provide a foundation for future studies investigating the effects of various nursing interventions on the oxygen requirements of critically ill patients. OBJECTIVES: To establish reference values for the oxygen requirements of adults in response to three common patient events: a nurse-administered bed bath, passive range-of-motion exercises, and turning from side to side; and to determine whether the order in which the interventions were administered had an effect on oxygen consumption. METHODS: A convenience sample of 30 healthy men and women were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups, for which the order in which interventions were to be administered had previously been designated. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance with repeated measures. RESULTS: There was a significant difference in the mean oxygen consumption among activities, as well as between men and women, with men having a significantly higher mean oxygen consumption than that of the women. For both men and women, the mean oxygen consumption during unassisted turning and back care was significantly higher than at baseline. The oxygen consumption for men averaged 4.25 mL/kg per minute, SD = .71 at baseline, 5.08 mL/kg per minute, SD = .98 for turning, and 4.72 mL/kg per minute, SD = .90 during back care. Women averaged 3.74 mL/kg per minute, SD = .49 at baseline, 4.48 mL/kg per minute, SD = .85 for turning, and 3.89 mL/kg per minute, SD = 1.15 during back care. Changes in oxygen consumption for other interventions were nonsignificant and negligible. Oxygen consumption returned to near baseline within 15 minutes of cessation of activity. The order in which interventions were administered did not have a significant effect on oxygen consumption. CONCLUSIONS: The anterior bath and passive range of motion exercises have minimal effect on oxygen consumption. Turning and back care significantly increase oxygen consumption from the baseline value. The order in which interventions are administered does not have any appreciable effect on oxygen consumption.

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