Distinct Wound Healing and Quality-of-Life Outcomes in Subgroups of Patients With Venous Leg Ulcers With Different Symptom Cluster Experiences

Kathleen Finlayson, Christine Miaskowski, Kimberly Alexander, Wei Hong Liu, Bradley Aouizerat, Christina Parker, Diane Maresco-Pennisi, Helen Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context Adults with venous leg ulcers frequently experience multiple symptoms that may influence quality of life (QOL). Objectives The objective of this study was to identify patient subgroups based on their experience with a pain-depression-fatigue-sleep disturbance symptom cluster and to identify differences in patient characteristics and wound-healing and QOL outcomes between the subgroups. Methods Secondary data analysis from previous longitudinal studies of 247 patients with venous leg ulcers. Latent class analysis identified subgroups of patients with distinct experiences with the symptom cluster of pain, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. Hierarchical regression analysis identified relationships between the subgroups and QOL outcomes. Survival analysis identified differences between the subgroups and ulcer healing. Results Latent class analysis found 67% of patients were in a mild symptom subgroup (i.e., experiencing no or mild pain, depressive symptoms, fatigue, or sleep disturbance). One-third of the samples were in a severe symptom subgroup, who reported moderate-to-severe levels of these symptoms. Compared with the mild subgroup, patients in the severe subgroup had poorer QOL scores (t = 8.06, P < 0.001). Symptom subgroup membership accounted for 19% of the variance (P < 0.001) within a hierarchical regression model that explained 42% of the variance in QOL (F(7,170) = 16.89, P < 0.001, R2 = 0.42). Cox proportional hazards regression found that at enrollment into the study, patients in the severe symptom subgroup were 1.5 times (95% confidence interval 1.02–2.08) less likely to heal in the following 24 weeks (P = 0.037). Conclusion Significant relationships were found between delayed ulcer healing, decreased QOL, and membership in the severe symptom subgroup. These findings suggest that comprehensive symptom assessment is needed to identify patients at higher risk for poor outcomes and enable early intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-879
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Venous leg ulcers
  • fatigue
  • healing
  • pain
  • quality of life
  • symptom cluster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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