Psychological interventions for treating foot ulcers, and preventing their recurrence, in people with diabetes

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Abstract

Background: Diabetic foot ulceration (DFU) can be defined as a full-thickness wound below the ankle and is a major complication of diabetes mellitus. Despite best practice, many wounds fail to heal, and when they do, the risk of recurrence of DFU remains high. Beliefs about personal control, or influence, on ulceration are associated with better engagement with self-care in DFU. Psychological interventions aim to reduce levels of psychological distress and empower people to engage in self-care, and there is some evidence to suggest that they can impact positively on the rate of wound healing. Objectives: To evaluate the effects of psychological interventions on healing and recurrence of DFU. Search methods: In September 2019, we searched the Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Ovid MEDLINE (including In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations), Ovid Embase, Ovid PsycINFO and EBSCO CINAHL Plus. We also searched clinical trials registries for ongoing and unpublished studies, and reviewed reference lists of relevant included studies as well as reviews, meta-analyses and health technology reports to identify additional studies. There were no restrictions with respect to language, date of publication or study setting. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs that evaluated psychological interventions compared with standard care, education or another psychological intervention. Our primary outcomes were the proportion of wounds completely healed; time to complete wound healing; time to recurrence and number of recurrences. Data collection and analysis: Four review authors independently screened titles and abstracts of the studies identified by the search strategy for eligibility. Three authors independently screened all potentially relevant studies using the inclusion criteria and carried out data extraction, assessment of risk of bias and GRADE assessment of the certainty of the evidence. Main results: We identified seven trials that met the inclusion criteria with a total of 290 participants: six RCTs and one quasi-RCT. The studies were conducted in Australia, the USA, the UK, Indonesia, Norway and South Africa. Three trials used a counselling-style intervention and one assessed an intervention designed to enhance an understanding of well-being. One RCT used a biofeedback relaxation training intervention and one used a psychosocial intervention based on cognitive behavioural therapy. A quasi-RCT assessed motivation and tailored the intervention accordingly. Due to the heterogeneity of the trials identified, pooling of data was judged inappropriate, and we therefore present a narrative synthesis. Comparisons were (1) psychological intervention compared with standard care and (2) psychological intervention compared with another psychological intervention. We are uncertain whether there is a difference between psychological intervention and standard care for people with diabetic foot ulceration in the proportion of wounds completely healed (two trials, data not pooled, first trial RR 6.25, 95% CI 0.35 to 112.5; 16 participants, second trial RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.26 to 1.39; 60 participants), in foot ulcer recurrence after one year (two trials, data not pooled, first trial RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.32 to 1.41; 41 participants, second trial RR 0.63, 95% CI 0.05 to 7.90; 13 participants) or in health-related quality of life (one trial, MD 5.52, 95% CI -5.80 to 16.84; 56 participants). This is based on very low-certainty evidence which we downgraded for very serious study limitations, risk of bias and imprecision. We are uncertain whether there is a difference in the proportion of wounds completely healed in people with diabetic foot ulceration depending on whether they receive a psychological intervention compared with another psychological intervention (one trial, RR 2.33, 95% CI 0.92 to 5.93; 16 participants). This is based on very low-certainty evidence from one study which we downgraded for very serious study limitations, risk of bias and imprecision. Time to complete wound healing was reported in two studies but not in a way that was suitable for inclusion in this review. One trial reported self-efficacy and two trials reported quality of life, but only one reported quality of life in a manner that enabled us to extract data for this review. No studies explored the other primary outcome (time to recurrence) or secondary outcomes (amputations (major or distal) or cost). Authors' conclusions: We are unable to determine whether psychological interventions are of any benefit to people with an active diabetic foot ulcer or a history of diabetic foot ulcers to achieve complete wound healing or prevent recurrence. This is because there are few trials of psychological interventions in this area. Of the trials we included, few measured all of our outcomes of interest and, where they did so, we judged the evidence, using GRADE criteria, to be of very low certainty.

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McGloin, H., Devane, D., McIntosh, C. D., Winkley, K., & Gethin, G. (2021, February 8). Psychological interventions for treating foot ulcers, and preventing their recurrence, in people with diabetes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012835.pub2

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