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Experiences of maintaining awake prone positioning in non-intubated patients with COVID-19: A qualitative study.

  • Zhang, Yan1
  • Chen, Yuhong2
  • Shen, Xiao1
  • Feng, Ping1
  • Zhang, Hao1
  • 1 Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Nanjing First Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China. , (China)
  • 2 Ministry of Nursing, Nanjing First Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China. , (China)
Published Article
Nursing in critical care
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2024
DOI: 10.1111/nicc.12927
PMID: 37161792


Patient compliance is crucial to maintaining the awake prone position, which has been found to be intolerable by several patients. Addressing patients' compliance while being treated with awake prone positioning and prolonging its duration may be prerequisites for further research. This study was conducted to explore the personal experiences of non-intubated patients during the implementation of awake prone positioning. We conducted a qualitative study recruiting a purposive sample of twelve adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who were previously treated with awake prone positioning. They were recruited from an intermediate care unit (that provides pre- and post-intensive care) in a COVID-19-designated hospital in Nanjing, China from July 15, 2021, to September 20, 2021. Data were collected through individual in-depth interviews and then analysed using Colaizzi's phenomenological method. Content analysis of the interviews revealed two main themes, each containing three and four sub-themes, respectively, as follows: (1) barriers to the implementation of awake prone positioning, including (i) generalised discomfort, (ii) a lack of both understanding and trust, and (iii) low satisfaction with the implementation plan; (2) factors promoting the implementation of awake prone positioning, including (i) health education and supervision, (ii) self-motivation and support from healthcare staff and family members, (iii) finding a comfortable position and having access to entertainment, and (iv) symptom improvement. Healthcare staff should clarify the mechanism underlying the effectiveness of the awake prone position to patients to eliminate any doubts that they may have. Psychological support and appropriate supervision should be emphasised. Pain relief programmes should also be established, including the use of a comfortable prone posture in conjunction with access to entertainment. Finally, individualised awake prone positioning protocols should be formulated according to patients' living habits and attempted in combination with out-of-bed activities. These measures may help to enhance the experience and compliance of patients undergoing the treatment. For future instances involving the implementation of awake prone positioning, several measures should be established and implemented alongside it, including a health education programme, supervision programme, support system, and pain relief programme. Personalisation should also be considered during its implementation. These measures may help to enhance the compliance of patients and prolong the duration of the awake prone position. © 2023 British Association of Critical Care Nurses.

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