Management of diabetic foot disease and amputation in the Irish health system: a qualitative study of patients’ attitudes and experiences with health services

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Date
2015-07-01
Authors
Delea, Sarah
Buckley, Claire M.
Hanrahan, Andrew
McGreal, Gerald
Desmond, Deirdre
McHugh, Sheena M.
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Biomed Central Ltd.
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Abstract
BACKGROUND: Diabetes is an increasingly prevalent chronic illness that places a huge burden on the individual, the health system and society. Patients with active foot disease and lower limb amputations due to diabetes have a significant amount of interaction with the health care services. The purpose of this study was to explore the attitudes and experiences of foot care services in Ireland among people with diabetes and active foot disease or lower limb amputations. METHODS: A purposive sample of individuals who had either active foot disease or a lower limb amputation as a result of diabetes were recruited from the Prosthetic, Orthotic and Limb Absence Rehabilitation (POLAR) Unit of an Irish hospital. One-to-one interviews were conducted in the POLAR unit using a semi-structured topic guide. Thematic analysis was used to identify, analyse and describe patterns within the data. RESULTS: Ten males participated in the study. Most participants expressed a need for emotional support alongside the medical management of their condition. There were substantial differences between participants with regard to the level of education and information they appeared to have received regarding their illness. There were also variations in levels of service received. Transport and medication costs were considered barriers. Having a medical card, which entitles the holder to free medical care, eased the burden of the patient’s illness. A number of participants attributed some of the problems they faced with services to the health care system as a whole rather than health care professionals. CONCLUSION: Results suggest that rehabilitation services should place a strong focus on psychological as well as physical adjustment to active foot disease or lower limb amputations. The delivery of services needs to be standardised to ensure equal access to medical care and supplies among people with or at risk of lower extremity amputations. The wider social circumstances of patients should be taken into consideration by health care professionals to provide effective support while patients adjust to this potentially life changing complication. The patient’s perspective should also be used to inform health service managers and health professionals on ways to improve services.
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Keywords
Diabetes , Foot disease , Lower limb amputation , Health services , Patient experience
Citation
DELEA, S., BUCKLEY, C., HANRAHAN, A., MCGREAL, G., DESMOND, D. & MCHUGH, S. 2015. Management of diabetic foot disease and amputation in the Irish health system: a qualitative study of patients’ attitudes and experiences with health services. BMC Health Services Research, 15:251, 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12913-015-0926-9