Venous leg ulcer management in Australian primary care: Patient and clinician perspectives

CD Weller, C Richards, L Turnour, V Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Venous leg ulcers are the most common chronic wound seen in Australian primary care. Healing outcomes are protracted due to suboptimal use of clinical practice guideline recommendations. A better understanding of the differences between patients and clinicians may optimise management in primary care and improve healing and health outcomes for patients and healthcare spend in society. Objective: We explored venous leg ulcer management from patients’ and primary care clinicians’ perspective, including assessment, diagnosis, treatment, referral, and health education as outlined in the clinical practice guidelines. Design: We conducted a qualitative secondary analysis of data obtained from the qualitative face-to-face and telephone interviews with the primary care clinicians and telephone interviews with patients with venous leg ulcers. Setting: Clinicians were recruited from urban and rural primary health practices across Victoria, Australia. Patients were recruited from two specialist care wound clinics in Victoria. Participants: We analysed data from interviews with 66 participants, including 31 patients with venous leg ulcers, 15 general practitioners and 20 practice nurses. Methods: Secondary analysis of qualitative data was carried out using thematic analysis. Interview transcripts were coded and analysed for common themes. Results: We found patients and clinicians reported differing perspectives related to venous leg ulcer management. Patients reported the need for earlier referral to specialist wound care clinics from primary care, emphasizing the need for vascular assessment and compression therapy. Clinicians discussed clinical judgements about when to refer rather than follow guideline recommendations. Clinicians frequently discussed managing venous leg ulcers using only topical dressing treatments, without compression therapy. Patients reported inadequate pain management for wound pain. Meanwhile, clinicians reported that they generally did not discuss wound pain management as part of overall venous leg ulcer management. Clinicians reported patients lacked an understanding about the role of compression in management of and subsequent healing outcomes. Patients stated they wanted more information about how to care for venous leg ulcers and how best to prevent recurrence, and needed more information than was already provided by clinicians. Conversely, clinicians reported less information is given to ensure patients were not overwhelmed with health information. Conclusion: There are discrepancies between what patients want and what clinicians do. These data suggest that patients’ preferences are aligned with venous leg ulcer clinical practice guideline recommendations. Greater awareness of the guidelines by health professional may not only reduce discrepancies they may improve health and healing outcomes. Tweetable abstract: Patients and primary care clinicians have different perspectives about venous leg ulcer management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103774
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • clinical practice guidelines
  • patients
  • primary care clinicians
  • qualitative research
  • Venous leg ulcer

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