The Impact of Venous Leg Ulcers on Body Image and Self-esteem

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate self-esteem and body image in patients with venous leg ulcers (VLUs).

DESIGN:

A multicenter, prospective, descriptive, analytical, clinical study.

SETTINGS:

A nursing care and education center of a university hospital, a health center, and an outpatient wound care clinic in Brazil.

PATIENTS:

Fifty-nine consecutive adult patients with VLUs and Doppler ankle-brachial index ranging from 0.8 to 1.0 were recruited for the study. Exclusion criteria were mixed ulcers, arterial ulcers, and diabetic foot ulcers.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

A questionnaire assessing sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of patients, the Brazilian version of the Body Investment Scale, and the Rosenberg Self-esteem (RSE)/UNIFESP-EPM (São Paulo da Universidade Federal de São Paulo–Escola Paulista de Medicina) scale were administered to all patients.

MAIN RESULTS:

Most participants were women, aged between 60 and 70 years, and smokers; 33 (56%) were divorced, widowed, or single, and 26 (44%) were married. The patients had the ulcer for a mean of 5.42 years. Exudate and foul odor were present in most cases. Twenty-one ulcers (36%) measured 29 cm2 or less in surface area, and 17 (29%) ulcers measured between 30 and 49 cm2 (mean, 3.39 cm2). The mean RSE score was 22.66, indicating low self-esteem. The mean Body Investment Scale total score was 27.49, and the scores on the body image and body touch subscales were also low, indicating negative feelings about the body.

CONCLUSION:

Patients with VLUs had low self-esteem and negative feelings about their bodies.

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