Risk factors for delayed healing in venous leg ulcers : a review of the literature

Parker, C.N., Finlayson, K.J., Shuter, P.E., & Edwards, H.E. (2015) Risk factors for delayed healing in venous leg ulcers : a review of the literature. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 69(9), pp. 967-977.

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Chronic leg ulcers, remaining unhealed after 4–6 weeks, affect 1-3% of the population, with treatment costly and health service resource intensive. Venous disease contributes to approximately 70% of all chronic leg ulcers and these ulcers are often associated with pain, reduced mobility and a decreased quality of life. Despite evidence-based care, 30% of these ulcers are unlikely to heal within a 24-week period and therefore the recognition and identification of risk factors for delayed healing of venous leg ulcers would be beneficial.


To review the available evidence on risk factors for delayed healing of venous leg ulcers. Methods: A review of the literature in regard to risk factors for delayed healing in venous leg ulcers was conducted from January 2000 to December 2013. Evidence was sourced through searches of relevant databases and websites for resources addressing risk factors for delayed healing in venous leg ulcers specifically.


Twenty-seven studies, of mostly low-level evidence (Level III and IV), identified risk factors associated with delayed healing. Risk factors that were consistently identified included: larger ulcer area, longer ulcer duration, a previous history of ulceration, venous abnormalities and lack of high compression. Additional potential predictors with inconsistent or varying evidence to support their influence on delayed healing of venous leg ulcers included decreased mobility and/or ankle range of movement, poor nutrition and increased age.


Findings from this review indicate that a number of physiological risk factors are asso- ciated with delayed healing in venous leg ulcers and that social and/or psychological risk factors should also be considered and examined further.


The findings from this review can assist health professionals to identify prognostic indicators or risk factors significantly associated with delayed healing in venous leg ulcers. This will facilitate realistic outcome planning and inform implementation of appropriate early strategies to promote healing.

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ID Code: 82064
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: venous leg ulcers, risk factors
DOI: 10.1111/ijcp.12635
ISSN: 1742-1241
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Nursing not elsewhere classified (111099)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Deposited On: 26 Feb 2015 23:10
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 05:46

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