Thesis Title

The Comparison of Upper Arm and Forearm Blood Pressure

Date of Graduation

Fall 2006


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Susan Hinck


Practitioners, at increasing rates, are encountering situations in which it is not possible to obtain a blood pressure (BP) reading from the standard upper arm site and are using the forearm as an alternative site. The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a significant difference between BP readings obtained at the upper arm and forearm of adults. Volunteers were recruited from a low-income, independent-living, 104 apartment complex in the Midwest. A convenience sample of 106 met the inclusion criteria of being over age 18 years, able to have BP measurement taken in their right arm, and having an arm circumference of 22 cm or greater. Two participant's readings were removed for extreme scores. A total of 40 junior level baccalaureate nursing students assisted in data collection. These students received specific training on BP measurement technique and were supervised by the primary investigator during all data collection. BP readings were taken twice at each right upper arm and forearm sites with calibrated automatic blood pressure monitors. All personnel who took BP readings followed the same methodology and technique for fitting the cuff size and taking the BP readings. The forearm tended to have higher readings than the upper arm with a mean systolic difference of 4 mm Hg and mean diastolic difference of 2.3 mm Hg, both statistically significant at p≤0.05. These differences, however, may not be clinically significant. Proper documentation for any BP reading should include the site of measurement.


blood pressure, forearm, upper arm, wrist, comparison

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