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Patients ´ discomfort related to cold prehospital environment

Research project Patients who have to be transported to hospital by ambulance also have to spend time outside, even if it is very cold in the wintertime. In prehospital care, it is uncommon to have optimal possibilities to give the patient good comfort related to maintaining the patients’ warmth.

Patients’ experiences of discomfort in prehospital care, including ambulance transport, are rarely described in research literature. In prehospital care situations, it is common that patients can feel discomfort for various reasons, such as illness, injuries, pain and of being cold. In prehospital care, it is uncommon to have optimal possibilities to give the patient good comfort related to maintaining the patient’s warmth. Recommendations for what equipment should be used in the prehospital care mostly depend on tradition and experience and seldom on scientific evidence. It must be considered important that the ambulance environment is optimal not to create further discomfort for patients who are ill or injured.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2010-11-03 2014-06-30

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Nursing

Research subject

Public health and health care science

Project description

Patients’ experiences of discomfort in prehospital care, including ambulance transport, are rarely described in research literature. In prehospital care situations, it is common that patients can feel discomfort for various reasons, such as illness, injuries, pain and of being cold. In prehospital care, it is uncommon to have optimal possibilities to give the patient good comfort related to maintaining the patient’s warmth. Recommendations for what equipment should be used in the prehospital care mostly depend on tradition and experience and seldom on scientific evidence. It must be considered important that the ambulance environment is optimal not to create further discomfort for patients who are ill or injured.

The overall aim of this thesis is to explore patients’ experiences of prehospital care and being cold, and to identify exposure of discomfort from being cold related to equipment, external and internal temperatures. Furthermore, the aim is to explore if a comforting intervention in ambulance care with heating equipment effects patients´ body temperature, skin temperature and the experience of being cold.

Interviews, observations and measurements of for example temperatures will be used, as well as to set up an experimental intervention in three parts of the project.

To prevent discomfort from being cold is a basic nursing activity. Untreated coldness can lead to hypothermia, which is a life threatening condition. This thesis can contribute with new knowledge to improve prehospital care for patients and to prevent experiences of discomfort from cold. To test alternative external heat sources might give new insight of how to optimize comfort not only in prehospital care, but in hospital care as well.