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A Qualitative Approach to Understanding the Experience of Ulceration and Healing in the Diabetic Foot: Patient and Podiatrist Perspective
Abstract The management of a diabetic foot ulcer requires the patient to change his or her behavior. Despite little evidence, it is suggested that psychological factors are influential in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers. It is, therefore, important to determine how patients with diabetic foot ulcers and the podiatrists who treat them perceive and understand foot ulceration, as this may influence patients' behaviors. To address this gap in knowledge, 2 qualitative studies were undertaken. In the first study, interviews were conducted with 13 patients with diabetic foot ulcers recruited from outpatient podiatry clinics. A second study was conducted with podiatrists working in the outpatient clinics from which the patients were recruited. In both studies, the interview schedules consisted of a series of open-ended questions concerned with examining beliefs about ulcers, causes and treatment of ulcers, and adherence to treatment recommendations. All interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, and coded for emerging themes using the "constant comparison" approach to qualitative data analysis. The experience of having ulcers had a considerable impact on patients' lifestyles. Both ulcer and treatment affected the patient's mobility, independence, and social life. These experiences often lead to anger, fear, depression, helplessness, boredom, and loss of self-esteem. Podiatrists also perceived that foot ulcers had a negative impact on patients' lives and their emotional well-being and were aware of factors that may influence adherence to treatment. It is suggested that understanding and addressing the psychosocial aspects of foot ulceration may lead to better adherence and may improve clinical outcomes.
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