This article explores the professional challenges of treating patients with complex/severe forms of chronic oedema/lymphoedema with compression therapy. Four focus groups were held, two in the UK and two in Canada, to examine the challenges faced by practitioners in their everyday practice. A number of challenges were identified by participants in both countries and include the changing profile of lymphoedema/chronic oedema and how increasing complexity is outpacing the development of services and research-based guidelines. Focus groups also highlighted a lack of public awareness, poor professional knowledge, delayed diagnosis and inappropriate treatment as having a significant impact on practice. Other practice-related issues include a poor understanding of treatment options among practitioners, a lack of evidence-based practice as well as difficulties associated with managing psychosocial problems and of ensuring concordance with treatment. In Canada, services tend to be more rural and remote than in the UK, autonomous specialist practice is less developed and practitioners were generally less confident and felt more vulnerable than their UK colleagues. There is a need for integrated, multi-disciplinary services in both countries, with improved education and training, as well as the development of cost-effective compression bandaging systems that can make a major contribution to meeting the challenges of contemporary lymphoedema practice.
© 2011 The Authors. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Medicalhelplines.com Inc.