Barriers and facilitators to use of compression therapy by people with venous leg ulcers: A qualitative exploration

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Abstract

Aims
To explore barriers to, and facilitators of, adherence to compression therapy, from the perspective of people with venous leg ulcers.

Design
An interpretive, qualitative, descriptive study involving interviews with patients.

Methods
Participants were purposively sampled from respondents to a survey exploring attitudes to compression therapy in people with venous leg ulcers. Sampling continued until data saturation: 25 interviews between December 2019 and July 2020. Inductive thematic analysis of interview transcripts was undertaken to create a framework for the data, followed by deductive analysis informed by the Common-Sense Model of Self-Regulation.

Results
A range of knowledge and understanding about the cause of venous leg ulcers and the mechanisms of compression therapy was demonstrated, which was not particularly related to adherence. Participants talked about their experience with different compression methods and their concerns about the length of time healing could take. They also spoke about aspects of the organization of services which affected their care.

Conclusion
Identifying specific, individual barriers/facilitators to compression therapy is not simple, rather factors combine to make adherence more or less likely or possible. There was no clear relationship between an understanding of the cause of VLUs or the mechanism of compression therapy and adherence; different compression therapies presented different challenges for patients; unintentional non-adherence was frequently mentioned; and the organization of services could impact on adherence. Ways in which people could be supported to adhere to compression therapy are indicated. Implications for practice include issues relating to communication with patients; taking into account patients' lifestyles and ensuring that they know about useful ‘aids’; providing services that are accessible and provide continuity of appropriately trained staff; minimizing unintentional non-adherence; and acknowledging that healthcare professionals will always need to support/advise those who cannot tolerate compression.

Impact
Compression therapy is a cost-effective, evidence-based treatment for venous leg ulcers. However, there is evidence that patients do not always adhere to this therapy and there is limited research investigating reasons why patients do not wear compression. The study found no clear relationship between an understanding of the cause of VLUs or the mechanism of compression therapy and adherence; that different compression therapies presented different challenges for patients; that unintentional non-adherence was frequently mentioned and that the organization of services could impact on adherence. Attending to these findings offers the opportunity to increase the proportion of people undergoing appropriate compression therapy and achieving complete wound healing, the main outcome desired by this group.

Patient/Public Contribution
A patient representative sits on the Study Steering Group, contributing to the work from developing the study protocol and interview schedule to interpretation and discussion of findings. Members of a Wounds Research Patient and Public Involvement Forum were consulted about interview questions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Early online date22 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • adherence
  • Barriers and facilitators
  • compression therapy
  • nursing
  • patient experience
  • qualitative research
  • venous leg ulcer

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