Using different designs in wound healing research
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Using different designs in wound healing research

Sue Bale Director of Nursing Research, Wound Healing Research Unit, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK, Research Unit, School of Care Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Wales, UK

Wounds are common, expensive to treat and prevent patients from returning to their normal activities. Wound healing as a clinical specialty has only developed over the past 20 years, and this is an area of practice where there is a very strong impetus towards ensuring that, as far as possible, all health care is evidence based. Scientific wound healing research has a long history, but clinical research in this field is much more recent. Clinical wound healing research has particular challenges related to the nature of the patients and the interventions being studied. Wounds are a symptom, rather than a disease, and patients often present with multiple or complex pathology. Wound healing interventions typically include dressings, bandages and mattresses, all of which are highly visible to researchers and patients alike. This makes the design and execution of experimental studies challenging. For example, the ‘blinding’ of researchers, patients and staff to highly visible interventions is very difficult. In this article, Sue Bale discusses the use of four different designs that have been employed: case studies, non-comparative studies, quasi-experimental studies, and randomised controlled trials. The value and contribution of each is explored

Wounds are a common clinical problem, cared for in most, if not all, clinical settings. Chronic wounds, including chronic pressure, leg and diabetic foot ulcers, adversely affect patients’ lives as they experience lengthy healing times, pain, psychological distress and delays in returning to normal activity. Typically, chronic wounds affect the older person, and, with an increasing proportion of older people in the population, the financial burden on the National Health Service (NHS) is set to increase. Pressure ulcers, for example, pose particular problems, as they are common and the cost of prevention and treatment is high; estimates range from £600,000 to £3 million for a 600-bed general hospital (Clark and Watts 1994, Touche Ross 1993). In a similar way, costs associated with the treatment of patients with leg and diabetic foot ulceration are also increasing.

Nurse Researcher. 11, 4, 42-53. doi: 10.7748/nr2004.

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