Patients’ understanding of cellulitis and their information needs: a mixed-methods study in primary and secondary care
Emma Teasdale, Anna Lalonde, Ingrid Muller, Joanne Chalmers, Peter Smart, Julie Hooper, Magdy El-Gohary, Kim S Thomas and Miriam Santer
Background: Cellulitis is a painful infection of the skin and underlying tissues, commonly affecting the lower leg. Approximately one-third of people experience recurrence. Patients’ ability to recover from cellulitis or prevent recurrence is likely to be influenced by their understanding of the condition. Aim: To explore patients’ perceptions of cellulitis, and their information needs. Design and setting: Mixed-methods study comprising semi-structured, face-to-face interviews and a cross-sectional survey, recruiting through primary and secondary care, and advertising. Method: Adults aged ≥18 years with a history of cellulitis were invited to take part in a survey, qualitative interview, or both. Results: In all, 30 interviews were conducted between August 2016 and July 2017. Qualitative data highlighted a low awareness of cellulitis before the first episode, uncertainty about when it had been diagnosed, concern/surprise at the severity of cellulitis, and a perceived insufficient information provision. People were surprised that they had never heard of cellulitis and that they had not received advice or leaflets giving self-care information. Some sought information from the internet and found this confusing. A total of 240 surveys were completed (response rate 17%). These showed that, although many participants had received information on the treatment of cellulitis (60.0%, n = 144), they often reported receiving no information about causes (60.8%, n = 146) or prevention of recurrence (73.3%, n = 176). Conclusion: There is a need to provide information for people with cellulitis, particularly in regard to naming their condition, the management of acute episodes, and how to reduce the risk of recurrences.