Identification of factors contributing to recurrence of venous leg ulcers

Finlayson, Kathleen Joy (2010) Identification of factors contributing to recurrence of venous leg ulcers. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


Background and Significance Venous leg ulcers are a significant cause of chronic ill-health for 1–3% of those aged over 60 years, increasing in incidence with age. The condition is difficult and costly to heal, consuming 1–2.5% of total health budgets in developed countries and up to 50% of community nursing time. Unfortunately after healing, there is a recurrence rate of 60 to 70%, frequently within the first 12 months after heaing. Although some risk factors associated with higher recurrence rates have been identified (e.g. prolonged ulcer duration, deep vein thrombosis), in general there is limited evidence on treatments to effectively prevent recurrence. Patients are generally advised to undertake activities which aim to improve the impaired venous return (e.g. compression therapy, leg elevation, exercise). However, only compression therapy has some evidence to support its effectiveness in prevention and problems with adherence to this strategy are well documented. Aim The aim of this research was to identify factors associated with recurrence by determining relationships between recurrence and demographic factors, health, physical activity, psychosocial factors and self-care activities to prevent recurrence. Methods Two studies were undertaken: a retrospective study of participants diagnosed with a venous leg ulcer which healed 12 to 36 months prior to the study (n=122); and a prospective longitudinal study of participants recruited as their ulcer healed and data collected for 12 months following healing (n=80). Data were collected from medical records on demographics, medical history and ulcer history and treatments; and from self-report questionnaires on physical activity, nutrition, psychosocial measures, ulcer history, compression and other self-care activities. Follow-up data for the prospective study were collected every three months for 12 months after healing. For the retrospective study, a logistic regression model determined the independent influences of variables on recurrence. For the prospective study, median time to recurrence was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method and a Cox proportional-hazards regression model was used to adjust for potential confounders and determine effects of preventive strategies and psychosocial factors on recurrence. Results In total, 68% of participants in the retrospective study and 44% of participants in the prospective study suffered a recurrence. After mutual adjustment for all variables in multivariable regression models, leg elevation, compression therapy, self efficacy and physical activity were found to be consistently related to recurrence in both studies. In the retrospective study, leg elevation, wearing Class 2 or 3 compression hosiery, the level of physical activity, cardiac disease and self efficacy scores remained significantly associated (p<0.05) with recurrence. The model was significant (p <0.001); with a R2 equivalent of 0.62. Examination of relationships between psychosocial factors and adherence to wearing compression hosiery found wearing compression hosiery was significantly positively associated with participants’ knowledge of the cause of their condition (p=0.002), higher self-efficacy scores (p=0.026) and lower depression scores (p=0.009). Analysis of data from the prospective study found there were 35 recurrences (44%) in the 12 months following healing and median time to recurrence was 27 weeks. After adjustment for potential confounders, a Cox proportional hazards regression model found that at least an hour/day of leg elevation, six or more days/week in Class 2 (20–25mmHg) or 3 (30–40mmHg) compression hosiery, higher social support scale scores and higher General Self-Efficacy scores remained significantly associated (p<0.05) with a lower risk of recurrence, while male gender and a history of DVT remained significant risk factors for recurrence. Overall the model was significant (p <0.001); with an R2 equivalent 0.72. Conclusions The high rates of recurrence found in the studies highlight the urgent need for further information in this area to support development of effective strategies for prevention. Overall, results indicate leg elevation, physical activity, compression hosiery and strategies to improve self-efficacy are likely to prevent recurrence. In addition, optimal management of depression and strategies to improve patient knowledge and self-efficacy may positively influence adherence to compression therapy. This research provides important information for development of strategies to prevent recurrence of venous leg ulcers, with the potential to improve health and decrease health care costs in this population.

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ID Code: 39531
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Edwards, Helen & Courtney, Mary
Additional Information: Recipient of 2010 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award
Keywords: venous leg ulcer, recurrence, prevention, ODTA
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 Jan 2011 22:57
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:44

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