A systematic review on the impact of leg ulceration on patients' quality of life
This study aimed to describe the experience of living with a venous leg ulcer from the patient's perspective, to answer the question 'What is it like to live with a venous leg ulcer?' Investigating the experience of illness is important in understanding how disease processes affect people, how they understand and cope with these processes, and how care may be given most effectively. Little research was identified which examined these areas with reference to people with leg ulceration. A qualitative approach was taken in the following study, using phenomenological methods to describe the experience of venous leg ulceration. Informal unstructured interviews were conducted with 13 informants, guided by their descriptive priorities. Tape recordings were then transcribed and analysed for recurrent themes and their meanings. It was found that certain symptoms of ulceration, principally pain, were the overwhelming feature of the experience. These symptoms caused significant restrictions in people's lives, particularly in their ability to walk and go out. Treatment was not described as being efficacious in ameliorating these symptoms, but nevertheless great confidence and trust was placed in the expertise of nurses. People coped with the experience mainly by a process of normalizing its components. It is concluded that if treatment is to meet the needs of those suffering venous leg ulceration, then symptom control must be the highest priority.