Preliminary Study of the Effects of Complete Bed Baths with Synthetic Towels: Comparison between Inpatients and Healthy Individuals

Monday, 9 November 2015

C. Matumura, PhD, MSN, RN
Department of Nursing, Kagawa Prefectural University of Health Sciences, Takamatsu city, Japan

Chizuru MATUMURA, PhD, MSN, RN1,  Kiyoko FUKAI, PhD, PHN, RN2

1Department of Nursing, Kagawa Prefectural University of Health Sciences

 2Graduate School of Health Sciences,Okayama University


To establish safe and comfortable bed baths with synthetic towels in actual clinical settings, this preliminary study aimed to verify effects of these baths with synthetic towels on inpatients.


Due to ethical limitations, we used a one group pre-post design targeting inpatients. Results were compared with healthy individuals who underwent an identical experiment. Subjects comprised five inpatients (73.2 ± 12.1 years, males: 3, females: 2) who could communicate verbally but had a low independence level and required complete bed baths. Towels were heated (55.7 ± 0.5 °C) in a thermostatic device. Complete bed baths excluding the genital area were given in the same manner to both inpatients and healthy individuals (15 healthy, male students in their twenties). Effects were evaluated using indicators such as core body and skin temperature, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (heart rate variability), short form of the profile of mood states (POMS-SF), alertness and relaxing visual analogue scale (VAS), and 1 to 3 Likert scales for each of the six items of towel material texture. This study was conducted with approval of the ethics committee of the affiliated institutions.

Results and Discussion

Inpatients exhibited significant increases in core body temperature from the start; mean skin temperature tended to increase after temporarily dropping directly after completing the bath. No marked changes were observed in blood pressure, heart rate, or autonomic nerve activity upon completing the bath, suggesting that results were affected by aging. Decreased alertness and lower POMS scores were observed, and scores for 3 of 6 texture items were high. Although no marked changes in autonomic nerve activity were observed in healthy individuals from the start, significant increases in core body and skin temperature and significant decreases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure were observed, showing marked temperature sensation and circulatory response. Further, after completing the bath, significantly decreased alertness and increased VAS were observed, and only one texture item received high scores.


Marked temperature sensation and circulatory response occurred in healthy individuals, but very little response was observed in inpatients.