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Title: Leg ulceration in young people who inject drugs : causative factors, and how harm may be reduced : a mixed methods approach
Author: Coull, Alison Frances
ISNI:       0000 0001 2424 6193
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2016
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The thesis explores chronic leg ulceration experienced by young people who inject drugs (PWID). The applied health research study, in two phases, used a sequential explanatory mixed methods design. Phase 1 involved a survey of 200 people who injected drugs to investigate the prevalence of skin problems and leg ulceration, together with the identification of risk factors for ulceration. Phase 2 involved a series of fifteen qualitative semi-structured interviews that explored the results relating to risk factors with a sample of PWID who had experienced leg ulceration, and investigated participants’ perceptions of appropriate harm reduction methods. Main findings There were three research questions in this study: 1) What is the extent of skin problems and chronic leg ulceration in young people who inject drugs? The study identified a high prevalence of leg ulceration as 15%. 60% of the sample had experienced a skin problem. Each reported skin complication is clearly defined. 2) What causes chronic leg ulceration in young people who inject drugs? Leg ulceration experienced by PWID in this study was directly linked to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), as well as injecting in the groin and the leg. DVT was strongly associated with groin and leg injecting. The acceptance amongst injectors of the groin and leg as a site of choice has occurred with a lack of awareness of the long-term consequences of damage to the limb. 3) What are appropriate harm reduction measures in young people who inject drugs? Harm reduction methods related to the development of leg ulceration have been absent across schools and drug services. Training for healthcare workers which enables them to identify risk factors should be developed, and harm reduction information related to leg ulceration should be included in drug education within schools, and instigated within drugs services. This applied health research has led to a number of practice-focused recommendations surrounding clinical care including early detection of venous insufficiency and accessible services to prevent, assess, and treat venous disease in PWID. The original contribution to knowledge is three-fold: 1. Leg ulcers have been found to be highly prevalent in young people who inject drugs. 2. Ulceration is predominantly caused by venous thrombosis due to injecting in the legs or groin. 3. Harm reduction related to the development of venous disease has lacked impact and effect.
Supervisor: Watterson, Andrew ; Taylor, Avril ; Atherton, Iain Sponsor: Smith and Nephew Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Leg ulcer ; PWID ; Injectors ; wounds ; mixed methods ; harm reduction ; venous disease ; drugs ; people who inject drugs ; IVDU ; intravenous drug use ; Leg--Ulcers ; Drug abuse ; Blood-vessels--Diseases