Awake prone positioning research focuses primarily on improving oxygenation and reducing intubation and mortality rates. Secondary outcomes concerning patient safety have been poorly addressed.


To summarize current evidence on the frequency of adverse events during awake prone positioning and the effects on patients’ safety, comfort, and tolerance.


This scoping review used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews. MEDLINE/PubMed and CINAHL databases were the primary sources for the systematic search.


The review included 19 original studies involving 949 patients who underwent awake prone positioning. No major complications such as death, severe respiratory compromise, or hemodynamic disease were reported. Ten studies reported the following secondary adverse events related to awake prone positioning: skin breakdown (1%-6% of patients), pain (12%-42%), discomfort (35%-43%), vomiting (2%-7%), intolerance (3%-47%), and vascular catheter dislodgment (5%). The duration of awake prone positioning sessions varied widely (0.3-19 hours). Seven studies reported that nurses helped patients during prone positioning maneuvers, including monitoring and surveillance, and 3 studies reported patients placing themselves in the prone position. In 6 studies light or moderate sedation was employed in the procedures.


Awake prone positioning was not related to cardiorespiratory consequences but was associated with pain, intolerance, discomfort, and patients’ refusal. Patients should receive education regarding awake prone positioning to improve their acceptance. Health care professionals should optimize pain control, communication, patient comfort, patient adherence, and correct positioning.

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