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Incidence of Skin Tears and Risk Factors

A Systematic Literature Review

Strazzieri-Pulido, Kelly Cristina; Peres, Giovana Ribau Picolo; Campanili, Ticiane Carolina Gonçalves Faustino; de Gouveia Santos, Vera Lúcia Conceição

Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing: January/February 2017 - Volume 44 - Issue 1 - p 29–33
doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000288
Wound Care

Skin tears are traumatic wounds resulting from friction and shearing forces. Clinical practice strongly indicates that skin tears are a prevalent problem but their incidence is not well established in the literature. This systematic literature review identified and evaluated the available literature on the incidence and risk factors for skin tears in adults and the elderly. Inclusion criteria were epidemiological studies published in English, Spanish, or Portuguese languages from January 1990 through June 2014 and available in full text. Study quality was assessed using the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement and the Guidelines for Critically Appraising Studies of Prevalence or Incidence of a Health Problem. Five studies reporting incidence of skin tears met the selection criteria. Reported incidence rates of skin tears ranged from 2.23% to 92% in long-term care facilities and varied from 2.1% among men to 4.6% among women living in the community. The most prevalent risk factor for skin tears was old age, followed by impaired mobility, falls and accidental injuries, previous skin tears, cognitive deficit/dementia, dependence in transfers, and upper limbs. Further epidemiological studies on skin tears are necessary to elucidate the cause of these injuries and identify the profile of people at risk for skin tears, contributing to the development and implementation of appropriate preventive interventions.

Kelly Cristina Strazzieri-Pulido, PhD, ETN, Graduate Program in Adult Health Nursing, University of São Paulo School of Nursing (PROESA-EEUSP), Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.

Giovana Ribau Picolo Peres, MSN, ETN, São Camilo Hospital, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.

Ticiane Carolina Gonçalves Faustino Campanili, MSN, ETN, University of São Paulo School of Medicine (FMUSP), Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.

Vera Lúcia Conceição de Gouveia Santos, PhD, CETN (TiSOBEST), Medical-Surgical Nursing Department, University of São Paulo School of Nursing (EE-USP), Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.

Correspondence: Giovana Ribau Picolo Peres, MSN, ETN, São Camilo Hospital, Av. Dom Pedro I, 219 apt. 1006, CEP 01552-001 Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.