Instruments to Assess the Subjective Repercussions of People with Chronic Wounds: Integrative Review


Instruments to Assess the Subjective Repercussions of People with Chronic Wounds:
Integrative Review

Instrumentos para evaluar las repercusiones subjetivas de personas con heridas crónicas:
revisión integrativa

Instrumentos para avaliação das repercussões subjetivas de pessoas com feridas crônicas:
revisão integrativa

Joyce Souza Lemes 1
Kelle Vanessa Álvares Amaral 2
Cynthia de Assis Barros Nunes 3
Ana Clara Alves Campo 4
Alexia Nunes Batista 5
Suelen Gomes Malaquias 6

1 Faculdade de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil.

2 Faculdade de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil.

3 Faculdade de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil.

4 Faculdade de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil.

5 Faculdade de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil.

6 Faculdade de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil.

Received: 28/07/2018
Sent to peers: 22/08/2018
Approved: 28/10/2018
Accepted: 29/11/2018


Theme: Evidence-based practice.

Contribution to the discipline: This review sought to contribute to better understanding of the instruments of subjective or ho- listic assessment of individuals with chronic wounds. It is necessary for nursing care to consider the individual as a whole, which can be facilitated from the theoretical reference by Wanda de Aguiar Horta through the theory of Basic Human Needs. Hence, the selection of instruments capable of assessing the broader needs of a population, enables the systematization of nursing care and the orientation towards more assertive interventions. Instruments that evaluate quality of life are capable of evaluating people with wounds, suggesting that other repercussions are identified through said evaluation. It is highlighted that evidence-based practice (EBP) emerges from the clinical observations and from the essential demands, which provides health professionals knowl- edge, in systematic and consistent manner, to support their decision-making on health care to individuals. Thus, within the context of this study, evidence-based actions minimize intuitive behaviors and aid in the systematization of nursing care.

To reference this article / Para citar este artículo / Para citar este artigo: Lemes JS, Amaral KVA, Nunes CAB, Campos ACA, Batista AN, Malaquias SG. Instruments to Assess the Subjective Repercussions of People with Chronic Wounds: Integrative Review. Aquichan 2019; 19(1): e1918. DOI: 10.5294/aqui.2019.19.1.8


Objective: To analyze the instruments described in the literature for extended assessment in people with chronic wound.
Materials and methods: Study of integrative review of the literature. The search was conducted on databases including PUBMED, Web of Science, SciELO, CINAHL, Science Direct (Elsevier), Scopus, and Biblioteca Virtual da Saúde (BVS).
Results: The search found 19 060 articles; after relevance tests, 41 were left. The instrument most used in the studies of this review was the Short Form 36 Health Survery (SF-36), which is a tool to assess quality of life (QOL).
Conclusion: A diversity of instruments was identified for extended assessment of people with wounds, with those investigating QOL being the most frequent. The repercussions are, mostly, contained in the QOL assessment instruments, but superficially and/or not explicitly, as in the SF-36, the means most-frequently identified in the studies of this review. These findings suggest the likelihood of differentiated implications of these instruments according to the etiology of the lesions, psychosocial and psychospiritual needs of the individual, as well as the context to which they are destined, like teaching, clinical practice, or research.

Keywords (source DeCS): Quality of life; wounds and injuries; leg ulcer; evaluation; evaluation of research programs and tools.


Objetivo: analizar los instrumentos descritos en la literatura para evaluación ampliada en personas con herida crónica.
Material y métodos: estudio de revisión integrativa de la literatura. La investigación se realizó en las bases de datos PUBMED, Web of Science, SciElo, CINAHL, Science Direct (Elsevier), Scopus y Biblioteca Virtual de la Salud (BVS).
Resultados: se encontraron 19 060 artículos; después de las pruebas de relevancia, quedaron 41. El instrumento más utilizado en los estudios de esta revisión fue el Short Form 36 Health Survery (SF-36), que es una herramienta de evaluación de la calidad de vida (CV).
Conclusión: se identificaron diversidad de instrumentos para evaluación ampliada de personas con heridas, siendo los de investigación de la CV los más frecuentes. Las repercusiones están, en su mayoría, contenidas en los instrumentos de evaluación de la CV, pero de forma superficial y/o poco explícita, como en el  SF-36, medio más frecuentemente identificado en los estudios de esta revisión. Estos hallazgos sugieren la posibilidad de implicaciones diferenciadas de esos instrumentos según la etiología de las lesiones, necesidades psicosociales y psicoespirituales del individuo, así como el contexto a que se destinan, tales quales enseñanza, práctica clínica o investigación.

PALABRAS CLAVE (fuente DeCS): Calidad de vida; heridas y lesiones; úlcera de la pierna; evaluación; evaluación de programas e instrumentos de investigación.


Objetivo: analisar os instrumentos descritos na literatura para avaliação ampliada em pessoas com ferida crônica.
Material e métodos: estudo de revisão integrativa da literatura. A busca foi feita nas bases de dados PUBMED, Web of Science, SciElo, CINAHL, Science Direct (Elsevier), Scopus, e Biblioteca Virtual da Saúde (BVS).
Resultados: foram encontrados 19060 artigos; após os testes de relevância, restaram quatro. O instrumento mais utilizado nos estudos dessa revisão foi o SF-36, que é uma ferramenta de avaliação da qualidade de vida (QV).
Conclusão: identificou-se diversidade de instrumentos para avaliação ampliada de pessoas com feridas, sendo os de investigação da QV os mais frequentes. As repercussões estão, em sua maioria, contidas nos instrumentos de avalição de QV, porém de forma superficial e/ou pouco explícita, como no Short Form 36 Health Survery (SF-36), meio mais frequentemente identificado nos estudos dessa revisão. Esses achados sugerem a possibilidade de implicações diferenciadas desses instrumentos conforme a etiologia das lesões, necessidades psicossociais e psicoespirituais do indivíduo, bem como o contexto a que se destinam, tais como ensino, prática clínica ou pesquisa.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE (fonte DeCS): Qualidade de vida; ferimentos e lesões; úlcera da perna; avaliação; avaliação de programas e instrumentos de pesquisa.


The occurrence of chronic wound, to the demands and limitations caused by the ulcer, triggers several representations to individuals. In this sense, it is possible that the following situations are observed: Chronic pain syndrome, change in body image, reduced work capacity, and altered family and social dynamics. They can lead individuals to a condition of social isolation, which impacts upon their quality of life (QOL) (1, 2).

To adequately care for these individuals, technical-scientific knowledge is necessary that considers aspects that go beyond the topical care of lesions. It is necessary to address the impacts of wounds on the daily lives of individuals, respecting the feelings, sensations, and biopsychosocial needs that must be addressed (3).

To be resolute in the context of clinical practice, interventions in the aforementioned situations must be systematized and based on scientific evidence, so that cases are duly followed up. In this sense, strategies exist to aid professionals to minimize the bias of subjectivity associated with this type of evaluation.

It is known that to make a holistic approach in people with chronic comorbidities, it is necessary to consider the aspects mentioned. Nevertheless, identifying those conditions may not be a simple task, given that these are aspects involving personal interpretations or impressions. This makes the evaluations made by the professionals superficial, detailed, or very subjective.

An important tool to guide said assessment is the use of Patient Report Outcome Measures (PROM), which are instruments that permit knowing and measuring patients’ opinions about their health and which, when applied during different moments of treatment, enable monitoring possible changes. These instruments serve as an aid because they estimate the evaluation in measurable manner and favor follow-up without the evaluator’s personal impressions (4).

Currently, several instruments are available for said purpose in diverse populations, even in people with wounds. However, it is observed that each study chooses a method, based on its priorities, and indicates somewhat inconclusive results regarding the use of the method chosen. Knowing the instruments that evaluate beyond the conditions of healing can contribute to the integral care of the individual, as well as influence upon decisions of care, treatment and/or interventions, along with the formulation of health programs and institutional policies (5).

Thus, this research is justified by the need to identify which of these instruments are or are not validated and to evidence their particularities. The initiative can favor the actions of professionals caring for people with those characteristics, with the purpose of optimizing the evaluation of psychophysiological repercussions.

By identifying the most effective instruments, it is possible to plan more assertive interventions in clinical practice and conduct experimental research, as well as aid in the professional formation of nurses and other professionals caring for said patients.


To analyze instruments of subjective evaluation of people with chronic wound described in the literature.

Materials and methods

This was a study of integrative review of the literature, conducted from August 2016 to July 2017. For the purpose of reporting this study, the work followed the recommendations of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). This is a checklist with 27 items, seeking to help authors to direct, more consistently and objectively, the presentation of systematic reviews and meta-analyses (6).

To elaborate the research question, the PVO strategy was used, where (P) is the person with chronic wound, (V) are the evaluation instruments, and (O) the outcomes the individual presents (6). The guiding question of this study was: What instruments are used for a subjective evaluation in people with chronic wounds?

The research included articles written between February 2006 and February 2017; in Portuguese, English, and Spanish; articles dealing with extended evaluation in people with chronic wounds (pressure lesions and/or leg ulcer, patients with complications in the feet due to diabetes mellitus, psoriasis), and also articles that use instruments for this evaluation. Dissertations, theses, book chapters, editorials, reviews, comments, abstracts, systematic and integrative review articles, and duplicate articles were excluded.

On 16 February 2017, a search was conducted in the following databases: National Library of Medicine (Medicine ― PUBMED), Web of Science, Electronic Library Online (SciELO), Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Science Direct (Elsevier), Science Direct (Scopus), and Biblioteca Virtual em Saúde (BVS). The following search strategy was used: “quality of life” OR “fatigue” OR “pain” OR “anxiety” OR “depression” AND “wounds and injures” OR “leg ulcer” OR “varicose ulcer” OR “pressure ulcer” OR “diabetic foot” AND “evaluation” OR “evaluation of research programs and tools”.

The 19060 articles identified in the search were saved, on the same day via E-mail, to control and apply relevance tests (RT) elaborated according to the inclusion criteria, which were established from the research question (7). The study considered articles in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, published between 2006 and 2017, and which addressed leg ulcer or holistic subjective assessment of the individual. First, the RT was applied to the titles of the articles identified, configuring RT 1, and, thereafter, the abstracts, representing the RT 2. Thus, duplicates, theses, dissertations, monographs, book chapters, editorials, opinion articles, and literature reviews were also excluded.

A form was drawn up to extract data from each article. Thus, extraction, organization, and summarization of information continued through the analysis of authenticity, methodological quality, importance of information, and representativeness, as well as the judgment of the study with regard to the degree of evidence (7, 8). To verify the degree of evidence of each article selected, the study used the Joanna Briggs reviewer’s manual, elaborated as a comprehensive guide to conduct systematic reviews, by categorizing the studies from their methodological designs (8).


From the search in all the databases, 19 060 articles were obtained; by applying the relevance test 1, 18 726 were excluded because of language, temporal cut prior to 2006, and not addressing repercussions among people with chronic wounds. Thereafter the relevance test 2 was applied, which excluded 293 articles because they did not contain instruments of extended assessment, and being duplicates and literature review articles, theses, dissertations, opinion articles, course completion works, and editorials. Thus, 41 articles were included to read in full and extract data (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Flowchart of the study inclusion process

Source: Own elaboration.

Table 1 evidences the characterization of the 41 studies selected, according to methodological design, population, objective, conclusion, and level of evidence, according to recommendations by the Joanna Briggs Institute (8).

Table 1. Characterization of the studies according to type, population, objective, conclusion, and level of evidence. Goiania, 2017.

Source: Own elaboration.

A higher number of publications was identified after 2014, indicating a growing demand for greater understanding on aspects concerning the extended assessment of people with chronic wounds.

With regards to types of studies, 26 (63.4 %) were cross-sectional, 10 (24.4 %) validation, translation, and adaptation of instruments, two (4.9 %) were pilot studies, two (4.9 %) control cases, and one (2.4 %) cohort study. There was prevalence of research conducted in American countries (51.2 %), of which 76.2 % were Brazilian, followed by European studies (43.9 %). With respect to the authors’ formation area, 20 (48.8 %) were from Medicine, 11 (26.8 %) from Nursing, 6 (14.6 %) from Physiotherapy, and 4 (9.8 %) from Nutrition.

In relation to the characteristics of the populations studied, 31 studies (75.6 %) had prevalence of female gender; in 63.4 % of the studies, age ranged between 60 and 70 years. The comorbidities found were diabetes (39 %), vascular disease (26.8 %), diabetes and hypertension (19.7 %), heart disease (7.3 %), orthopedic trauma (4.8 %), neurological disorders (2.4 %), and cancer (2.4 %). The 11 studies that evaluated schooling of the participants identified complete primary education in seven (63.6 %), and four (36.4 %) with more than half the population being illiterate.

In terms of the etiology of the lesion, there was significant relevance of the studies of people with leg ulcers (LU) (92.7 %), followed by pressure lesion (7.3 %). Studies with LU identified those that evaluated different populations, of which 16 (42.2 %) addressed people with foot ulcers due to complications of diabetes mellitus (DM), 16 (42. %) venous ulcer, two (5.2 %) arterial ulcer, one (2.6 %) neuropathic ulcer, one (2.6 %) compared populations with venous ulcer and ulcer due to complication of DM, one (2.6 %) compared people with ulcers due to psoriasis and leg ulcer, and one (2.6 %) compared populations with and without foot ulcers due to complications of DM.

Table 2 describes the assessment instruments used in the investigations. Of these, 15 (36.5 %) studies opted for using more than one instrument to evaluate the human repercussions investigated, or even evaluated more than one repercussion in the same study.

Table 2 Human impacts and respective instruments of extended assessment applied among people with chronic wounds. Goiania, 2017

Source:Own elaboration.

The most notable repercussion in the studies was QOL, identified in each in 35 (85.3 %) studies, followed by “pain” in five (12.2 %), self-esteem in five (12.2 %), depression in five (12.2 %), anxiety and depression, together, in four (9.7 %), feeling of powerlessness in two (4.8 %), loneliness in two (4.8 %), perceived social support in one (2.4 %), and general health in one (2.4 %) study.

Considering the studies (n = 35, 85.3 %) that evaluated QOL, concomitantly, three studies (8.5 %) evaluated bio-physiological dimensions, sought correlations with QOL. Of these, one (33.3 %) evaluated the healing conditions through the Pressure Ulcer Scale Healing (PUSH); one (33.3 %), mental state through the Mental State Mini Exam; and one (33.3 %), the functional capacity of the ankle through the Foot Ankle Ability Measurement. In turn, 11 (31.4 %) studies evaluated QOL simultaneously with another psycho-physiological or psychosocial repercussion, with emphasis for “pain” (45.4 %) as repercussion most associated in the studies. The studies of said review (11, 14, 20, 21, 22, 38, 39) evidenced that greater pain meant lower QOL of patients with leg ulcers and pressure lesion.

Thirty-three instruments were identified in the studies of this review, with 18 (54.5 %) being referents to assess QOL. Among them, we highlight the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36), identified in eight (44.4 %) studies, and the Charing Cross Venous Ulcer Questionnaire (CCVUQe), used in six (33.3 %). It should be emphasized that of the studies evaluating QOL, five (14.2 %) use more than one instrument to evaluate that same repercussion. Of these, one (20.0 %) study used four different instruments, and, in the rest (80.0 %) investigated, two instruments were identified.

Regarding the dimensions evaluated in the QOL instruments (n = 18), higher occurrence was observed of the referents to activities of daily life, identified in 13 (72.2 %) instruments. Questions corresponding to the evaluation of the dimension of “pain and discomfort” were found in nine (50 %) instruments, as well as “social aspects” in eight (44.4 %) and “emotional aspects” in six (33.3 %). It should also be noted that the same instrument contains an evaluation of more than one of the dimensions mentioned.

Some instruments, like the Venous Leg Ulcer QOL (VLU-QOL) guide the research considering the clinical characteristics according to the etiology of the ulcers, through most commonly observed symptoms.

In relation to the other repercussions, four instruments identified were used, each, in four (12.1 %) studies: Diabetic Foot Ulcer Scale (DFS), Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The instruments Health Survey (SF-12) and Beck’s depression and anxiety inventory were identified in three (9.1 %) studies each. Lastly, the Dermatology Quality Index (DLQI), EQ-5D Powerlessness Assessment Tool (PAT) questionnaire, and Loneliness scale (UCLA) were each used in two (6.1 %) studies.


Regarding the design diversity of the studies included, it is associated with the research question of this review that sought to know the instruments introduced in the literature for extended assessment of people with wounds. As expected, studies related to psychometrics were identified, however, it is possible to observe the scarcity of clinical research in this assessment context, making it difficult to judge the applicability of the instruments.

The greater occurrence of research carried out in American countries, especially Brazil, reinforces the potential to conduct investigations on this theme. Nursing still needs further investment to carry out studies like these, given that it is one of the professional areas with greatest contact with the studied population, and which, sometimes, identifies nuances of the multidimensional repercussions among these individuals in the daily care. In addition, research is a recommended assessment demand in specific guidelines to approach this population (2).

In relation to the characteristics of the population found in the articles in this review, the results reinforce the findings from the literature for the etiologies identified (50). This fact points to the presence of specific profiles that may help in directing actions in the context studied.

It is possible to identify association between sociodemographic data and psychosocial repercussions, like the highest occurrence of low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression in women, which can be related to a higher number of stressful factors, such as pregnancy, menopause, and social oppression (51, 52). Another example is the occurrence of depression associated to age, demonstrated by changing roles and, consequently, by alterations resulting from interaction and social function, in addition to continuous use of many medications (52, 54).

The prevalence of studies that address people with leg ulcers can be associated to the profile of the individuals in what refers to socioeconomic aspects. Because of their lower morbidity in relation to individuals with pressure lesion, leg ulcer patients still perform functions in the groups and social institutions to which they belong; people with pressure lesion, due to the most frequent comorbidities, like cancer and neurological disorders (45, 46), are unable to perform these roles. In this sense, it may be inferred that instruments specific to the etiology of the lesions can guide the approach and identify more precisely the broader repercussions, without ignoring the need to validate this affirmation in different clinical and cultural contexts.

The diversity of instruments existing in the literature to assess the human repercussions mentioned points to understanding the complexity of the investigation, as well as for the possibility of these instruments meeting different objectives, considering variables, like clinical practice, teaching, and research, which needs validation by other studies.

Evaluation of QOL, as the most frequent outcome investigated in the instruments found, draws attention to the scope of the theme and points to the possibility of exhausting the subjective assessment (holistic) of these individuals. However, it should be emphasized that the approach, in some instruments of QOL, is superficial or even inconsiderate in relation to certain repercussions, such as “feeling of powerlessness”, “anxiety”, “depression”, and “social aspects” (22, 41, 47). Said finding indicates that QOL instruments can be tracers and not determinants in judging the presence or absence of these repercussions in this population.

Pain was also investigated frequently in the instruments, being an important aspect in the multidimensional evaluation of professionals in this type of care, despite being detailed or inadequately addressed. Assessment of pain, if carried out regularly, allows nurses to become aware of the level of pain manifested by patients not only when conducting certain procedures. Additionally, the frequency of evaluation will enable obtaining information related to the intensity of pain that people with venous ulcers must endure or experience in their daily lives. Thus, it may be stated that the evaluation and registry of intensity of pain permit patients greater possibility of control over their condition, with positive effect on their capacity to develop strategies to cope with the problem. Assessment of pain is also a means of measuring the efficacy and response to treatment, and influences the prognosis (19, 22, 28, 29, 30, 46, 47). Pain represents an infectious process, neuropathy (22), or even psycho-emotional aspects involved (22, 28, 29). Through several instruments validated to evaluate the intensity and characteristic of pain, it is recommended to use the same instrument to facilitate comparison of results and evolution of cases. Such instruments can be determinant in the selection or adjustments in doses of analgesics, as well as in prescribing the most adequate coverage for healing (55).

This study highlights the visual analogue scale of pain and the questionnaire on pain by de McGill as instruments to evaluate and measure pain in patients with wounds. Although specific instruments exist to aid in this evaluation, they are still poorly used in clinical practice. In a study conducted in Brazil, in four hospitals that had the so-called “curative commissions”, merely 5 % of the nurses used some specific instrument to assess pain (56). This fact points to the need for a review of managerial aspects and to greater understanding by professionals regarding the importance of this evaluation.

The greater occurrence of the use of the SF-36 can be justified because it is an instrument that addresses a greater diversity of the dimensions identified as human repercussions, besides comparing the current perception of health in different temporal cut-offs (57), or in clinical situations and different care scenarios (58). While promoting a wide-ranging assessment of various dimensions, this type of instrument does not address major repercussions that affect the chronic wound, such as self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of powerlessness, and loneliness.

A search made with people with chronic wounds identified that the perception of those with chronic lesion is marked by pain, preconception, dependence for daily activities, and consequential emotional alterations. Patients face the adversities resulting from the lesion in different ways, and health professionals, especially nurses, must respect the individuality and understand how those repercussions affect patients (1).

In Nursing, theoretical references can help direct the holistic approach to this population, besides supporting the systematization of actions. The theory by Wanda de Aguiar Horta, “Theory of Basic Human Needs”, represents simple possibilities applicable in various contexts of clinical practice (59), and which can be jointly implemented in the evaluation of subjective repercussions of this population.

Thus, the importance is evident of directed evaluation by the nurse to implement and use certain instruments, considering the social and clinical context of the population with wounds to be cared for.


Diverse instruments were identified for extended assessment of people with wounds, with those investigating QOL being the most frequent. The other subjective repercussions found in the instruments analyzed were: Anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and perceived social support, in addition to specific instruments to evaluate mental state and healing.

The repercussions are, mostly, contained in instruments to evaluate QOL, but superficially and/or not very explicit, like in the SF-36, an instrument identified most frequently in the studies of this review. Hence, it is therein inferred that QOL instruments can be considered trackers of alterations of the aforementioned repercussions, but they hinder more directed judgment.

The findings in this research reinforce the contributions of using instruments for extended assessment of people with chronic wounds, and suggest the possibility of differentiated implications, according to the etiology of the lesions, psychosocial and psycho-spiritual needs of the individual, as well as the context to which they are destined, that is, teaching, clinical practice, or research.

It is also worth highlighting the importance of further studies that can validate the use of evaluation instruments in the various scenarios to indicate their evidence in a directed and, consequently, safer manner.

Conflict of interest: None declared.


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