The Role of Health Behaviors
Research studies have shown that several health behaviors have been correlated with the presence of pressure sores in people with SCI (Heinemann & Hawkins, 1995; Krause et al., 2001; Meyers, Mitra, Walker, Wilber, & Allen, 2000). Krause et al. interviewed 560 people with SCI, who either currently had a pressure sore, had one in the past year, or had been hospitalized for the treatment of a pressure sore, on a broad variety of health behaviors (2001). They found associations between a history of suicidal tendencies, incarceration, alcohol and drug abuse, and the presence of pressure sores. Suicidal ideation and incarceration were the two behaviors most highly correlated with the presence of pressure sores. In addition, they concluded that cigarette smoking increased the risk for pressure sores. In a sample of 117 adults with high-level SCI, Meyers et al. (2000) also found tobacco smoking to be highly correlated with the presence of secondary conditions, including pressure sores.
In their recommendations to people with SCI for preventing pressure sores, Klebine et al. (2000) suggest that people with SCI do not smoke, abuse drugs, or abuse alcohol. Smoking decreases oxygen to the skin and can make it more difficult for skin to heal. Abusing drugs or alcohol can damage skin and also lead to other health problems.
In addition, maintaining healthy emotional health and well-being are important because if someone is feeling depressed, he or she may not feel motivated to perform the necessary steps to prevent pressure sores. The person may not care whether or not they get a pressure sore. In order to prevent these feelings of worthlessness and despair, it is essential to incorporate stress management techniques and the development of appropriate coping skills into an effective health promotion program (Warms, 1987).