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Knowledge Deficits and Information-Seeking Behavior in Leg Ulcer Patients: An Exploratory Qualitative Study

Van Hecke, Ann; Beeckman, Dimitri; Grypdonck, Maria; Meuleneire, Frans; Hermie, Lynn; Verhaeghe, Sofie

Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing: July/August 2013 - Volume 40 - Issue 4 - p 381–387
doi: 10.1097/WON.0b013e31829a2f4d
WOUND CARE
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PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to explore knowledge deficits and underlying processes in information-seeking behavior in patients with leg ulcers.

METHOD: A qualitative approach based on grounded theory methods with constant comparison was used. Semistructured interviews were held with 15 patients with venous leg ulcers in community care settings and wound care clinics between October 2008 and June 2009. Data processing and data analysis occurred via a cyclic process.

RESULTS: Patients did not express a clear understanding of the causes of ulcers or their own contribution to enhance leg ulcer healing. They often lacked knowledge about relevant lifestyle advice and its relationship to healing or recurrence. During the leg ulcer trajectory, different leg ulcer perceptions were present: the ulcer as a trifle, the ulcer as a wound not healing on its own and making everyday life impossible, the ulcer as a skin problem, and the ulcer as a chronic condition. These perceptions defined patients' actions in leg ulcer care.

CONCLUSION: Leg ulcer patients often have inadequate knowledge of their condition and related lifestyle advice. Patients require greater knowledge about their condition before they can understand their treatment and recognize their role in promoting healing.

Ann Van Hecke, PhD, RN, Professor, Nursing Science, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, and Staff Member, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Dimitri Beeckman, PhD, RN, Assistant professor, Nursing Science, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Maria Grypdonck, PhD, RN, Full Professor Em., Nursing Science, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Frans Meuleneire, RN, Head nurse, General Surgery Department, AZ St Elisabeth Hospital, Zottegem, Belgium.

Lynn Hermie, RN, MA, Lecturer, Nursing Institute Sint-Vincentius, Ghent, Belgium.

Sofie Verhaeghe, PhD, RN, Professor, Nursing Science, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Correspondence: Ann Van Hecke, PhD, RN, Block A 2nd floor, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium (Ann.VanHecke@UGent.be).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.