Bridging the knowledge gap on chronic wounds

Dr Suzanne Kapp speaks on her contribution to Nature Reviews and shares her research interests in Chronic Wound Care.

Photograph of Suzanne KappThe Department of Nursing’s Dr Suzanne Kapp is a registered nurse whose work focuses on the treatment of chronic wounds in the community setting. One of her recent achievements is her contribution to the Chronic Wounds primer in Nature Reviews. Nature Reviews Disease Primers is a widely acclaimed resource used by students and staff, which provide reviews and commentary on multiple science disciplines. This Chronic Wounds primer provides an overview of the existing research on chronic wounds and aims to bridge gaps in knowledge to ensure better treatment of this condition.

Dr Kapp led the primer’s section on Quality of Life.

“I believe my experience working in the community setting, acute care and residential aged care, has allowed me to have frequent and direct contact with people with chronic wounds,” she says.

“This opportunity to have a close-up and personal understanding of the patients experience has informed my perspective and contribution to the journal.”

Dr Kapp’s passion for treating chronic wounds began with her work in community nursing. She developed an interest in this specialisation as it is an area where nurses have autonomy, and she was inspired by the nurse-led potential of the disciple.

“The reduction in pain, worry and all those things that the patients experience – not to mention the cost of wounds, not just to the individual but to the health system, are real motivators for me to continue my research and work in this field,” she elaborates.

Areas of particular interest for Dr Kapp within chronic wound treatment include patient enablement and self-management.

Photograph of patient bandaging wound“People generally want to be active participants in their management and care,” she says.

“I am a firm believer in optimising patients’ participation in the self-care of wounds. Not everyone can do everything to self-manage their wound, but I believe that everyone can do something. Whether it be changing their mindset and being open to new ideas, or to doing their own wound dressing.”

Currently, Dr Kapp is in the process of evaluating Remote Expert Wound Nurse consultations in Residential Aged Care via the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund Grant she received in 2020. Her research is responsive to the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aged Care quality and safety, highlighting the plight of people who received Aged Care, particularly bringing to the fore the need to better manage pressure injuries and leg ulcers in this setting.

photograph of different types of bandagesMoving forward, Dr Kapp aims to make an impact in the Aged Care environment. She believes that there are a lot of opportunities for nurses in Aged Care and an incredible need to support people who work in Aged Care by educating and training nurses and personal care workers in wound prevention and treatment.

The Nature Reviews Chronic Wounds primer seeks to emphasise the importance of chronic wound care, and greater inform all health disciplines on the management of this condition.   “Lots of people are affected by chronic wounds,” Dr Kapp concludes. “They know someone who has one or perhaps their grandmother had one (as mind did), or they see someone in the street with a leaky dressing. It seems covered up and hidden – but it’s not. A lot about my work is about raising awareness.”

To find out more about Dr Kapp’s work on chronic wound care, you can read her article on Pursuit: ‘Under pressure’.