Patients’ Beliefs About Diabetic Foot Ulcers Could Impact Survival Rates

The expectations and beliefs of diabetic people with foot ulcers regarding their disease could affect survival rates, according to a new study conducted by The University of Nottingham.

Researchers dovetailed on recent studies that linked depression to poorer medical outcomes for diabetic patients dealing with ulcers. During this study, nearly 170 patients were interviewed regarding their diabetic foot ulcers to better understand mortality risk and shed light on future therapeutic treatments to increase survival rates.

"We wanted to test the hypothesis that life expectancy in people with diabetic foot ulcers is shorter in patients with negative beliefs regarding their symptoms and attitudes to caring for their feet," said Professor Kavita Vedhara, lead author of the study.

Susceptibility to foot ulcers

Patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are prone to developing foot ulcers due to the narrowing of arteries and nerve damage to the feet. These ulcers can often become infected, hard to treat and may lead to amputation and death.

To discover potential links between belief systems and mortality, researchers gathered data like size and location of the ulcer, glucose control, previous ulcer history and the type of diabetes each patient possessed. Participants in the study were then given foot care advice and treatment for their ulcers.

"Our analysis examined whether patients' beliefs about their ulcer predicted survival, after taking into account the effects of depression and other clinical factors that might be expected to influence mortality,” said Vedhara. “We found that, although depression was not a significant predictor, patients who believed their ulcers were associated with greater symptoms died more quickly.”

Researchers also claim that those who believed their ulcers would have more negative consequences in the future and would last a long period of time died more quickly than those in the study that had a positive outlook on the situation.

Source: The University of Nottingham

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