The Influence of Beliefs About Health and Illness on Foot Care in Ugandan Persons with Diabetic Foot Ulcers



Katarina Hjelm*, 1, 2, Esther Beebwa3
1 School of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden
2 Department of Social and Welfare Studies, University of Linköping, Campus Norrköping, Sweden
3 Department of Nursing, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Mbarara, Uganda


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© Hjelm and Beebwa; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University, S-351 95 Växjö, Sweden; Tel: +46 470 70 83 05; Fax: +46 470 363 10; E-mail: katarina.hjelm@lnu.se


Abstract

Diabetes mellitus is becoming pandemic, particularly affecting Sub-Saharan Africa, and the prevalence of complications is increasing. Diabetic foot disorders are a major source of morbidity and disability. Delay in the health care process due to patients’ beliefs may have deleterious consequences for limb and life in persons with diabetic foot ulcers. No previous studies of beliefs about health and illness in persons with diabetic foot ulcers living in Africa have been found. The aim of the study was to explore beliefs about health and illness among Ugandans with diabetic foot ulcers that might affect self-care and care seeking behaviour. In an explorative study with consecutive sample semi-structured interviews were held with 14 Ugandan men and women, aged 40-79, with diabetic foot ulcer. Knowledge was limited about causes, management and prevention of diabetic foot ulcers. Foot ulcers were often detected as painful sores, perceived to heal or improve, and led to stress and social isolation due to smell and reduced mobility. Most lacked awareness of the importance of complete daily foot care and seldom practised self-care. Health was described as absence of disease and pain. Many feared future health and related it to contact with nurses in the professional sector from whom they sought information, blood tests and wound dressings and desired better organised diabetes clinics offering health education and more opening hours. Many have an underutilised potential for self-care and need education urgently, delivered in well-organised diabetes clinics working to raise awareness of the threat and prevent foot ulcers.

Keywords: : Africans, attitudes to health/illness, beliefs about health/illness, care-seeking behaviour, diabetes mellitus complications, foot ulcer, self-care.