Open Access Research article

Pressure ulcer related pain in community populations: a prevalence survey

Elizabeth McGinnis1*, Michelle Briggs2, Michelle Collinson3, Lyn Wilson3, Carol Dealey4, Julia Brown3, Susanne Coleman3, Nikki Stubbs5, Rebecca Stevenson3, E Andrea Nelson6 and Jane Nixon3

Author Affiliations

1 Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK

2 Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK

3 Clinical Trials Research Unit Leeds, Leeds, UK

4 University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

5 Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Leeds, UK

6 University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

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BMC Nursing 2014, 13:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-13-16

Published: 21 June 2014



Pressure ulcers are costly to the healthcare provider and can have a major impact on patient’s quality of life. One of the most distressing symptoms reported is pain. There is very little published data on the prevalence and details of pain experienced by patients with pressure ulcers, particularly in community populations. The study was conducted in two community NHS sites in the North of England.


The aim was to estimate the prevalence of pressure area related pain within a community population. We also explored the type and severity of the pain and its association with pressure ulcer classification. A cross-sectional survey was performed of community nurses caseloads to identify adult patients with pressure ulcers and associated pain. Consenting patients then had a full pain assessment and verification of pressure ulcer grade.


A total of 287 patients were identified with pressure ulcers (0.51 per 1000 adult population). Of the 176 patients who were asked, 133 (75.6%) reported pain. 37 patients consented to a detailed pain assessment. Painful pressure ulcers of all grades and on nearly all body sites were identified. Pain intensity was not related to number or severity of pressure ulcer. Both inflammatory and neuropathic pain were reported at all body sites however the proportion of neuropathic pain was greater in pressure ulcers on lower limbs.


This study has identified the extent and type of pain suffered by community patients with pressure ulcers and indicates the need for systematic and regular pain assessment and treatment.

Pressure Ulcer; Pain; Prevalence; Community