Validity of the Braden Scale in grading pressure ulcers in trauma and burn patients

Academic Article


  • © 2017 Elsevier Inc. Background Pressure ulcers are a costly hospital-acquired condition in terms of clinical outcome and expense. The Braden Scale was developed in 1987 as a risk scoring method for pressure ulcers and uses six different risk factors: sensory perception, moisture, activity, mobility, nutrition, and friction and shear. A score of ≤18 is considered high risk. To date, research on the utility of the Braden Scale has focused on general medicine and nontrauma/burn surgery patients. We hypothesize that the Braden Scale does not accurately discriminate who will get a pressure ulcer among trauma and burn patients. Methods We collected data from medical records regarding documented Braden scores and presence of pressure ulcers regardless of staging. Patients with ulcers present on admission were excluded from analysis. For each patient, the lowest Braden score documented before the occurrence of the pressure ulcer was determined. A logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios and associated 95% confidence intervals for the association between pressure ulcer likelihood and lowest Braden Scale measurement. To determine the discriminatory ability of the Braden Scale on pressure ulcer risk, four measures of performance (i.e., sensitivity, specificity, positive likelihood ratio, and negative likelihood ratio) were calculated for four nonmutually exclusive groups: a Braden Scale measurement ≤18, ≤14, ≤12, and ≤9. Results From 2011 through 2014, a total of 2660 patients were admitted to the trauma/burn intensive care unit. Of these patients, 63 (2.3%) subsequently developed a pressure ulcer. A Braden Scale of ≤18 as the threshold for being at-risk of pressure ulcer had a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 6%, whereas a Braden Scale of ≤9 had a sensitivity of 28.6% and a specificity of 90%. For all Braden Scale measurements, the positive likelihood ratio never reached the value of 10 that suggests high likelihood of an ulcer. Conclusions The Braden scale has mediocre discriminatory ability among the trauma/burn population. In addition, the low positive likelihood ratio suggests that the Braden scale may not be a useful clinical tool as it may result in unnecessary expenditure of time and personnel resources in preventing pressure ulcer formation.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Griswold LH; Griffin RL; Swain T; Kerby JD
  • Start Page

  • 151
  • End Page

  • 157
  • Volume

  • 219