Understanding the principles of non-invasive positive pressure ventilation
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Understanding the principles of non-invasive positive pressure ventilation

Alexandra Roberts Lecturer in critical care nursing, Faculty of Health Studies, School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, University of Bradford, Bradford, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand how non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) can improve gas exchange

  • To enhance your knowledge of the principles, modalities, risks and contraindications of NPPV

  • To recognise the role of nurses in providing care, and monitoring and managing patients receiving NPPV

Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) provides respiratory support to patients without the need for invasive intubation. Although it has been used for several years in critical care, NPPV has come to prominence as a management option for certain patients with respiratory complications of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This has led to increased care provision by nurses with little or no experience and expertise in critical care and NPPV. This article provides an overview of the principles of NPPV and its use in type 1 and type 2 respiratory failure. It explains the pathophysiology of several conditions that often lead to respiratory failure and how NPPV can mitigate respiratory failure and improve gas exchange. An individualised assessment of the patient’s suitability for NPPV and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the therapy are crucial to ensure its safe and effective use. Nurses also have an important role in providing explanations and support to patients.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11750

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software




Conflict of interest

None declared

Roberts A (2021) Understanding the principles of non-invasive positive pressure ventilation. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11750

Published online: 05 July 2021

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