OBJECTIVE: To assess differences in effectiveness between silver dressings and other types of dressings in chronic wound management in the community setting. METHOD: The study used client data retrospectively collected as part of routine care management. The cohort comprised 2687 clients who received 3716 episodes of care between September 2005 and January 2006. Outcome measures were the length of time for which clients received care from community nurses for each wound and the number of visits required. RESULTS: The median number of visits was statistically significantly higher for the silver-dressing users than for users of other dressings (31 versus 11, p<0.0001), while the median treatment duration was also greater (97 days versus 39 days, p<0.0001). In addition, the interval between visits was significantly shorter in the silver dressing group (p<0.001). CONCLUSION: These results question the effectiveness of silver dressing materials in the management of chronic wounds in a community care setting. However, these results need to be substantiated by prospective randomised controlled clinical trials to produce more reliable evidence.