A needs assessment of lymphoedema services in Fife and resulting recommendations
Lymphoedema is a chronic condition that leads to reduced quality of life through its negative impacts on physical, psychological, and social aspects of health. Limb swelling leads to discomfort and pain, reduced movement and function, and acute inflammatory episodes. Individuals experience altered body image and self-esteem impacting on social interaction. There is evidence that specialist management of the condition leads to improved quality of life. Concern regarding the adequacy of lymphoedema services led to the commissioning of a needs assessment by the Core Cancer Review Group in Fife, Scotland. The needs assessment used a variety of methods. Current services were located through consultation of known providers and databases. Existing databases were analysed to find out the number of people requiring the service: hospital admissions and diagnoses were analysed alongside a survey of primary practices in Fife. Access to existing services was explored through a telephone survey of referrers (n = 44), and qualitative interviews with five service providers and five clients. At the time of the study, non-palliative National Health Service (NHS) provision consisted of one part-time clinician; the service provided was under pressure from rapidly increasing referrals. However, consensus from referrers, providers, and clients indicated that there were obstacles to achieving diagnosis and referral, especially for those with non-cancer-related lymphoedema. This was primarily due to poor referrer awareness of the condition, its management, and existing services, for example, only seven per cent of those surveyed would refer to existing specialist services. Delayed referral is a significant issue, as prompt intervention leads to more positive treatment outcomes. As a result of the needs assessment, recommendations were made to increase staffing levels, promote awareness of the condition and related services, and improve geographical and multidisciplinary coordination of the service.(Published Online March 29 2007)
(Received June 2005)
(Accepted November 2006)
Key Words: lymphoedema; needs assessment.
c1 Address for correspondence: C. Bulley, At the time of the study: Physiotherapist, Queen Margaret Hospital, Whitefield Road, Dunfermline. Currently: Lecturer/Research Fellow Physiotherapy, Queen Margaret University College, Duke Street, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH6 8QD, UK. Email:email@example.com