Objective: The aim of this study was to describe health-related quality-of-life (HRQL) in patients with diabetic foot ulcers by comparing their HRQL with that of a sample from the general population without diabetes (general population) and a subgroup with diabetes (diabetes population), and to examine the differences between groups by sociodemographic characteristics and lifestyle factors.
Design and methods: A cross-sectional study was made of 127 adults with current diabetic foot ulcer, recruited from six hospital outpatient clinics, a control sample categorized as a diabetes population (n = 221) from the Norwegian Survey of Level of Living, and a sample from the general population (n = 5903). Data on sociodemographic characteristics (sex, age, cohabitation, education and employment) and lifestyle (body mass index [BMI] and smoking status) and HRQL (SF-36) were obtained.
Results: In all the SF-36 subscales and in the two SF-36 summary scales, the patients with diabetic foot ulcer reported significantly poorer HRQL than the diabetes population. The most striking differences were for role limitation-physical (32.1 vs. 62.2, p < 0.001), physical functioning (57.5 vs. 77.3, p < 0.001) and role limitation-emotional (57.4 vs. 72.0, p < 0.001). The patients with foot ulcer had significantly lower HRQL than the general population on all scales, and in particular on role limitation-physical (32.1 vs. 74.3, p < 0.001), physical functioning (57.5 vs. 85.2, p < 0.001) and general health (50.1 vs. 74.3, p < 0.001). The most important sociodemographic characteristic that differed between the diabetic foot ulcer patients and the diabetes population was that significantly more of the foot ulcer patients were men living alone. The largest differences between the foot ulcer patients and the general population were that more of the foot ulcer patients were men, older, living alone, less well educated, and not working. The diabetic foot ulcer patients, the diabetes population and the general population differed in BMI: 28 kg/m(2) in the foot ulcer patients, 27 kg/m(2) in the diabetes population and 25 kg/m(2) in the general population.
Conclusion: Diabetic foot ulcer patients had much worse HRQL compared with the diabetes population and the general population, especially in physical health. Foot ulcer patients were more often men living alone, and obesity was a problem in both the foot ulcer patients and the diabetes population.