Background: A venous leg ulcer (VLU) has a significant negative impact on quality of life. Prevention of a VLU is not yet imbedded in clinical practice because risk factors for developing a first VLU are not well known.
Objectives: To explore further the progression of chronic venous disease (CVD) into a first VLU from the patient’s perspective.
Methods: A qualitative study using semistructured interviews was conducted among male and female patients with a VLU. Patients from primary and secondary care,under and over 50 years of age, and with first and recurrent VLUs were included. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using a narrative approach to a thematic analysis. Transcripts were organized in chronological order and an iterative process was used to code the transcripts.
Results: Four key themes and the connections made between them emerged from the 11 narratives on the progression of CVD towards a first VLU: ‘comorbidity’, ‘mobility’, ‘work and lifestyle’ and ‘acknowledgment of CVD’. Comorbidity was linked to reduced mobility and late acknowledgment of CVD. Comorbidity also affected work and lifestyle and vice versa. Work and lifestyle affected mobility and was linked to the acknowledgment of CVD.
Conclusions: A reduction in mobility as a result of comorbidity and work and lifestyle occurred before the VLU developed. Patients did not recognize symptoms of CVD and did not acknowledge the chronicity of CVD. Healthcare professionals should be aware of reductions in mobility and the knowledge deficit in patients with CVD.