Graduation Year



A person’s pulse rate, which provides key data about physical and psychological health, must be assessed using a method that is both reliable and valid. Since no manual palpation standard exists, healthcare providers’ assessment methods vary depending on count time (15, 30, or 60 seconds) and start points (zero or one). Some researchers have shown more accuracy when starting the count with “zero,” but the common practice continues to be starting the count with “one.” The purpose of this study is to be a pilot for pulse count method validation, specifically examining the effect of counting interval (15, 30, or 60 seconds), and comparing accuracy of pulse count started on “zero” versus “one.” For each participant, the researchers palpated a radial pulse while counting for different time intervals, an electrocardiogram served as the gold standard comparison. Since pulse rate can vary substantially based on age, activity, health state, and other factors, the researchers assessed participants’ pulses at rest and again when their pulse rate was faster; participants rode a stationary bike until their target heart rate for exercise was achieved. Through use of different counting intervals and start points (“zero” versus “one”), the researchers identified methods of assessment that are most accurate across a wide range of pulse rates. This pilot study enrolled healthy, young adults but paved the way for future research on accurate pulse rate assessment across age groups and disease states.



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Nursing Commons