What promotes or prevents greater use of appropriate compression in people with venous leg ulcers? A qualitative interview study with nurses in the north of England using the Theoretical Domains Framework

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Objectives To investigate factors that promote and prevent the use of compression therapy in people with venous leg ulcers.

Design Qualitative interview study with nurses using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF).

Setting Three National Health Service Trusts in England.

Participants Purposive sample of 15 nurses delivering wound care.

Results Nurses described factors which made provision of compression therapy challenging. Organisational barriers (TDF domains environmental context and resources/knowledge, skills/behavioural regulation) included heavy/increasing caseloads; lack of knowledge/skills and the provision of training; and prescribing issues (variations in bandaging systems/whether nurses could prescribe). Absence of specialist leg ulcer services to refer patients into was perceived as a barrier to providing optimal care by some community-based nurses. Compression use was perceived to be facilitated by clinics for timely initial assessment; continuity of staff and good liaison between vascular/leg ulcer clinics and community teams; clear local policies and care pathways; and opportunities for training such as ‘shadowing’ in vascular/leg ulcer clinics. Patient engagement barriers (TDF domains goals/beliefs about consequences) focused on getting patients ‘on board’ with compression, and supporting them in using it. Clear explanations were seen as key in promoting compression use.

Conclusions Rising workload pressures present significant challenges to enhancing leg ulcer services. There may be opportunities to develop facilitated approaches to enable community nursing teams to make changes to practice, enhancing quality of patient care. The majority of venous leg ulcers could be managed in the community without referral to specialist community services if issues relating to workloads/skills/training are addressed. Barriers to promoting compression use could also be targeted, for example, through the development of clear patient information leaflets. While the patient engagement barriers may be easier/quicker to address than organisational barriers, unless organisational barriers are addressed it seems unlikely that all people who would benefit from compression therapy will receive it.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e061834
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Early online date1 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022