Self-Care Status, Symptom Burden, and Reported Infections in Individuals With Lower-Extremity Primary Lymphedema

Jie Deng, Elise Radina, Mei R. Fu, Jane M. Armer, Janice N. Cormier, Saskia R J Thiadens, Jan Weiss, Catherine M. Tuppo, Mary S. Dietrich, Sheila H. Ridner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purposes of this study were (a) to evaluate self-care, symptom burden, and reported infections among individuals with lower-extremity primary lymphedema; (b) to examine the differences in self-care, symptom burden, and reported infections between individuals with unilateral and those with bilateral lower-extremity primary lymphedema; and (c) to examine the associations among self-care status, symptom burden, and reported infections in individuals with lower-extremity primary lymphedema. Design: A secondary data analysis was used. Data were collected from a cross-sectional survey study supported by the National Lymphedema Network from March 2006 through January 2010. The surveys were available both online and in hard copy in order to increase accessibility. Methods: Descriptive statistics were conducted and associations between variables were assessed using Mann-Whitney tests and chi-square tests of independence. Multiple logistic regression was used to test for associations while controlling for potentially confounding variables. Findings: A total of 803 participants reported having lower-extremity primary lymphedema. The majority of the participants were female (82.9%), White (74.2%), and from the United States (90.7%). Approximately two thirds of the respondents conducted some home daily lymphedema self-care. Over half of the respondents reported experiencing symptom burden and 44.8% reported at least one episode of infection. Compared to individuals with unilateral lower-extremity primary lymphedema, individuals with bilateral lower-extremity lymphedema were more likely to conduct skin care (p = .004), use alternative medications (p = .005), more frequently reported symptoms (p < .05), and more likely to report at least one episode of infection (p = .002). Respondents who reported use of compression garments also were less likely to have self-reported pain (p = .002), poor range of motion (p = .026), and numbness (p = .001). Participants who reported exercising also were less likely to have self-reported pain (p = .003). Participants who reported at least one episode of infection also reported experiencing more symptoms (p < .001). Conclusions: Individuals with lower-extremity primary lymphedema experienced substantial symptom burden and infection episodes. Significant associations were identified among self-care, symptom burden, and reported infections. Clinical Relevance: The findings support the need for clinicians to educate patients with lower-extremity primary lymphedema regarding the importance of self-care, symptom management, and infection control. It is critically important for clinicians to evaluate symptom burden and reduce infections in individuals with lower-extremity primary lymphedema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Keywords

  • Infection
  • Lower extremity
  • Primary lymphedema
  • Self-care
  • Symptom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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