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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

A systematic review on the impact of leg ulceration on patients' quality of life

Oliver R Herber1*, Wilfried Schnepp2 and Monika A Rieger3

Author Affiliations

1 Competence Centre for General Medicine and Outpatients' Care & Institute of Nursing Science, University of Witten/Herdecke, Witten, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany

2 Chair of Family-oriented and Community-based Nursing, Institute of Nursing Science, University of Witten/Herdecke, Witten, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany

3 Research Department, Competence Centre for General Medicine and Outpatients' Care, Faculty of Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Witten, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2007, 5:44  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-5-44

Published: 25 July 2007

Abstract

Background

A systematic review was conducted to analyse journal articles that describe or measure the impact of leg ulceration on patients' quality of life (QoL) in order to improve the content of an educational programme that aims to enhance self-care agency in leg ulcer patients.

Method

Original articles published in English and German between 1990 and 2006 were included if the findings were analysed at the level of patients. Articles were excluded if (1) they investigated the impact of specific treatments or settings on QoL or (2) focused mainly on arterial ulcers or diabetic foot ulcers.

Results

Twenty-four original research articles met the inclusion criteria; 11 studies used a quantitative, 11 studies a qualitative, and 2 used a mixed method approach. The findings were collapsed into 5 core domains. Quantitative studies commonly investigated the parameters of pain, sleep, social isolation, and physical mobility. Patients had significantly more pain, more restrictions regarding social functioning, less vitality, and limitations with respect to emotional roles compared to the respective controls. Other problem areas identified were restrictions in work capacity, recreation, social interaction, psychological well-being, as well as problems caused by treatment regimes. Inconclusive results were obtained regarding pain intensity, physical restrictions, and gender effects.

Limitations

Numerous original studies neither undertook a differentiation of participants by ulcer aetiology nor did they analyse the results according to gender differences.

Conclusion

As leg ulceration has an impact on QoL, national guidelines on the treatment of leg ulceration need to more specifically address these far-ranging effects identified in this review.