Introduction: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), seen in critically ill patients, is a disease process that affects the lungs and directly impacts a patient’s oxygenation. Despite treatment, patients often die of ARDS secondary to systemic complications. Prone positioning has been introduced as a treatment to improve the outcomes of ARDS patients. This thesis summarized and critiqued recent literature on the outcomes of prone positioning in ARDS patients.

Methodology: An initial literature search was conducted using CINAHL Plus with Text, Medline, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Multiple search terms were used. Inclusion criteria consisted of peer reviewed research articles, academic journal articles, and evidence-based research or practices published within the last ten years. All studies included adult subjects and were published in the English language. Studies that did not address patient outcomes such as mortality, length of stay, or hemodynamic oxygenation were excluded from the review.

Results: The review of literature contains one meta-analysis and two studies. Data indicated that prone positioning was statistically significant in reducing mortality when performed in sessions of 12 hours or longer (p=0.05). Hemodynamic oxygenation improved significantly after at least 48 hours of implementing prone positioning. There was no trend in the length of stay or duration in mechanical ventilation whether supine or prone positioning was used. Complications such as endotracheal tube dislodgement, incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia, and pressure ulcers were reported in both supine and prone position with an increased risk of pressure ulcers and endotracheal tube obstruction in the prone position groups.

Conclusions: Findings support a benefit in patient outcomes in patients placed in prone position with ARDS. Mortality was reduced when prone sessions lasted longer than 12 hours possibly due to the improvement in patient oxygenation 48 hours after initiation of prone positioning intervention. Further research is needed to solidify these findings and establish guidelines and optimal procedural methods to maximize patient outcomes and lower the incidence of patient complications.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair

Sole, Mary Lou


Bourgault, Annette


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date