About venous leg ulcers, self-management and self-treatment
Venous leg ulcers are reported to affect 1-2% of people in the community and among those over 65 years of age the prevalence is believed to be higher. Many of our community members are likely to experience one or more venous leg ulcer during their lifetime. Venous leg ulcers are costly to the person affected and the healthcare systems that support them. Patients report pain, inconvenience, lifestyle restrictions and out-of-pocket financial expense. Care providers report prolonged and recurrent episodes of care which places considerable demand on nurses and inter-disciplinary teams.
There is a global imperative to engage patients in the self-management of chronic conditions. Venous leg ulcers should be considered a chronic condition as this type of wound has the defining characteristics of complex causality, multiple risk factors, long latency periods, a prolonged course of illness and functional impairment or disability. The self-management approach therefore should be considered for patients who have venous leg ulcers. Despite this, effort to engage patients who have venous leg ulcers in their self-management has been limited to date.
Self-treatment of wounds is defined as “the participant conducting wound cleansing, wound inspection, applying wound dressings, removing wound dressings and/or applying and removing compression bandaging.” (Kapp & Santamaria, 2017, p3)
Our research identified:
- Patients do self-treat, sometimes with and sometimes without the knowledge of their care providers.
- Patients self-treat for a range of reasons including limited access to health care services, unacceptable professional care, a desire to be independent and a wish to do the treatment at a time that suits them.
- Self-treating patients often do not receive targeted education and training, direct supervision, or ongoing monitoring and review of their self-treatment practice.
Access the STOW-V Checklist
Do you have patients who self-treat, or who may be suitable to self-treat?
The 'Self-Treatment of Wounds for Venous Leg Ulcers Checklist (STOW-V Checklist V1.0) is a tool designed for nurses to appraise the conduct of self-treatment activities by patients who have venous leg ulcers.
To read about the development and testing of the STOW-V Checklist: