Living with a chronic wound may impact on people’s relationships & intimacy

Kerrie Coleman1

1 Nurse Practitioner Complex Wound Management, Critical Care & Clinical Support Services/Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, Metro North Hospital & Health Service



It is estimated that about 400,000 Australians are living with chronic ulcers. Despite the development of techniques to improve healing, there are still many wounds that are treatment resistive.  Wounds involving pain, exudate and odour interfere with daily life, including intimacy. They may impact negatively on comfort, self-image, confidence, emotional wellbeing and relationships.  Quality of life, lived experience, and how people integrate an ongoing wound into their social and intimate relationships has not been studied.  Deeper understanding could change practice, by assisting nurses to know how to better support individuals and assist adaptation and wellbeing.


The aim of this study was to explore and gain an understanding about the experiences and feelings of persons living with a non-malignant chronic wound in relation to intimacy


The study utilised Descriptive Phenomenology based on Giorgi’s method. Following ethical clearance, a total of 17 participants were recruited from a major public hospital outpatient services located in Queensland Australia. For those participants recruited, the average length of time of the wounds was 24 months; average age was 60 years ranging from 23 to 91; 10 males 7 females; and wound types included 10 venous leg ulcers; 1 mixed arterial and venous leg ulcer; 1 failed surgical graft; 2 surgical wound dehiscence; 1 pilonidal sinus; 1 skin tear; and 1 trauma leg wound. Data collection involved in-depth and unstructured interviews.

Preliminary Results

Early themes identified across the participant’s transcripts included resilience and normal versus disabled.  This paper will present the journey of one patient’s narrative


It is not clear at this time why some people with chronic wounds are able to retain a sense of positivity and well-being.  This research is identifying that these positive behaviours are present to different degrees.  It is important to identify these factors so that maladaptive elements can be replaced with protective ones.


To come