The patient's perspective of diabetic foot ulceration: A phenomenological exploration of causes, detection and care seeking

Rebecca M. Crocker, Tze Woei Tan, Kelly N.B. Palmer, David G. Marrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aims: Diabetic foot ulceration can contribute to lowered life expectancy and quality of life for people with diabetes, and yet, scant attention has been given to improving preventive and educational measures. This article uses a phenomenological approach to explore individuals' lived experiences of diabetic foot ulcerations to explore factors that can be harnessed to achieve improved outcomes. Design: This was a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews grounded in a phenomenological framework to explore how patients perceive and understand their foot problems. Methods: Study participants were recruited from February 2020 to February 2021 from a tertiary referral centre that treats foot problems in persons with diabetes. A total of 15 Hispanic, Native American and White patients participated in the study. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews which were audio recorded with the participant's consent. Interview data were transcribed and analysed with Dedoose data management software. Results: Analysis revealed findings in two primary domains: (1) how patients perceive foot ulceration, with themes around limited understandings of foot ulceration, close sensory observation of foot problems and barriers to ulcer perception and (2) how patients experience the timing of foot ulceration, with themes on how time perceptions shifted as foot problems became more serious, which correlated closely to how patients responded to their foot problems. Conclusion: Despite the close sensory observation of their feet, people with diabetes face an array of barriers to recognizing and understanding the implications of diabetic foot ulceration, which can lead to delayed care seeking. Nurses can play a critical role in promoting patient education and improving patient self-management of foot ulcers. Impact: This phenomenological study offers important lessons to guide nurses and other providers in enhancing patient self-management of DFUs and improving care outcomes by expanding an understanding of DFU early warning signs, the imperative to seek medical care quickly, and addressing possible barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2482-2494
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of advanced nursing
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Hispanic
  • Native American
  • delayed care seeking
  • diabetes
  • diabetic foot ulcers
  • neuropathy
  • nursing
  • patient perspectives
  • phenomenology
  • racial disparity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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