The Lived Experiences of Persons With Chronic Venous Insufficiency and Lower Extremity Ulcers

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PURPOSE:The aim of this qualitative study was to describe the lived experience of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) sufferers and to explore how this chronic disease affected their health-related quality of life.SUBJECTS AND SETTING:Participants included persons with a history of venous insufficiency and leg ulcers or active venous insufficiency patients. The research setting was a hospital-based outpatient wound care clinic in a small naval community approximately 1 hour from Seattle, Washington. A convenience sample of 10 patients participated in the study; 6 were women and their mean age was 66 years. Nine were white and 1 was African American, and all were currently retired, disabled, or unemployed.INSTRUMENT:A 9-item interview guide was developed consisting of open-ended questions intended to elicit the lived experiences of persons with CVI.METHODS:Respondents participated in 1 focus group or individual interviews. Interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to guide data collection and analysis. Three patients participated in individual interviews and 7 patients participated in a 1-hour focus group. Data obtained from personal interviews were handwritten and data from focus group were audio-recorded. Audio-recorded data from focus group participation were transcribed, analyzed, and compared with the handwritten interviews using interpretive phenomenological analysis.RESULTS:Four themes identifying the various emotional, physical, and social implications of living with CVI were identified. They were (1) knowledge deficit, (2) discomfort, (3) inconvenience, and (4) coping. Participants identified concerns with knowledge deficits surrounding CVI among nonwound specialized providers. Physical discomfort and issues around the inconvenience presented by the frequency of physician visits and the nature of the treatments for CVI were also noted as a great concern among all participants. Participants provided insight into the importance of a strong social network of friends and family as well as the importance of a good relationship with your medical providers to assist sufferers in coping with the disease process.CONCLUSION:Participants cited knowledge deficits regarding CVI among nonspecialized health care providers and the discomfort, pain, and inconvenience of suffering from CVI as contributors to poor health-related quality of life. Participants described family, friends, and caregiver relationships as being especially important in helping them cope with the disease process.

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