Level of psychological distress and social support among patients with limb fractures in Hong Kong

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Aims.To explore the relationship between psychological distress and social support and examine its association with various socio-demographic and clinical characteristics.Background.Psychological distress is a common experience in patients after limb fractures. In this regard, a lower level of psychological distress is associated with better social support among patients with various types of diseases. However, there is a paucity of studies examining the relationship between social support and psychological distress among patients with limb fractures. More so, no such study has been conducted in the Chinese population.Design.A cross-sectional and correlational design.Method.A convenience sample of participants with upper limb fractures (n = 43) or lower limb fractures (n = 43) was recruited from two orthopaedic wards of a regional acute public hospital in Hong Kong. Data were obtained through face-to-face interview. The Impact of Event Scale was used to measure the level of psychological distress, while the Social Support Questionnaire Short-Form (SSQ6) was used to measure social support.Results.Approximately two-thirds of the participants (n = 54) suffered from medium to high level of psychological distress. Majority of them were fairly satisfied with their social support, with their children being the most common support persons. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the level of distress between the participants with lower or upper limb fractures. No significant correlation was found between psychological distress and social support. Those who were women, had lower education level and lower monthly income were significantly associated with a higher level of psychological distress.Relevance to clinical practice.Patients with fractured limb suffered from a high level of psychological distress. Therefore, a comprehensive assessment of psychological distress should be incorporated as routine assessment. Also, assessing the socio-demographic characteristics of patients should enable nurses to identify patients at risk of developing a high level of psychological distress.

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