Journal articlesThe impact of diabetic foot ulcer pain on patient quality of life

The impact of diabetic foot ulcer pain on patient quality of life

01/11/11 | Diabetic foot ulcers, Research, Wellbeing and concordance | Sarah Bradbury, Patricia Price

Aims: This cross-sectional, exploratory study investigated the presence and characteristics of diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) pain and its impact on quality of life (QoL).

Methods: A two-phase approach was adopted using audit to determine the extent of the problem within one specialist clinic population, followed by a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews to explore the effect on QoL from the patients’ perspective.

Results: Twenty-eight patients were included in the audit. Pain was assessed using a modified Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire. 86% of patients (n=24) reported some degree of DFU pain. Aching was the most common sensory pain (n=14). Tiring/exhausting was the most common affective descriptor (n=10). Three patients were recruited into the interview phase. Content analysis identified four themes: experience of pain; physical effects of pain; coping, support and social impact; psychological impact.

Conclusions: DFU pain can occur frequently and intensely despite peripheral neuropathy, and is not necessarily limited to the presence of DFU-related complications. It can affect patients physically and psychologically. Further qualitative work into the patient’s perspective on DFU pain would help clinicians to understand the relevance to diabetic foot care, and aid in the provision of holistic care.

Conflict of interest: None.