Exposure to cold temperatures is, often, a neglected problem in prehospital care. One of the leading influences of the overall sensation of cold discomfort is the cooling of the back. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a heated ambulance mattress-prototype on body temperatures and thermal comfort in an experimental study.
Method: Data were collected during four days in November, 2011 inside and outside of a cold chamber. All participants (n = 23) participated in two trials each. In one trial, they were lying on a stretcher with a supplied heated mattress and in the other trial without a heated mattress. Outcomes were back temperature, finger temperature, core body temperature, Cold Discomfort Scale (CDS), four statements from the state-trait anxiety - inventory (STAI), and short notes of their experiences of the two mattresses. Data were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. A repeated measure design was used to evaluate the effect of the two mattresses.
A statistical difference between the regular mattress and the heated mattress was found in the back temperature. In the heated mattress trial, the statement "I am tense" was fewer whereas the statements "I feel comfortable", "I am relaxed" and "I feel content" were higher in the heated mattress trial. The qualitative analyses of the short notes showed that the heated mattress, when compared to the unheated mattress, was experienced as warm, comfortable, providing security and was easier to relax on.
Heat supply from underneath the body results in increased comfort and may prevent hypothermia which is important for injured and sick patients in ambulance care.
2014. Vol. 22, 43- p.