Lower limb chronic edema management program: Perspectives of disengaged patients on challenges, enablers and barriers to program attendance and adherence


Background: Chronic edema (CO) is a progressive, physically disfiguring and currently incurable condition. A multifaceted program has been recommended to manage the swelling. However, there is little evidence investigating patients’ perspectives following the program, particularly for those who have poor adherence and/or are disengaged.

Aim: To investigate the perceived challenges faced by disengaged participants with lower limb CO by identifying their enablers and barriers to participating in a Physiotherapy CO program.

Method: An exploratory qualitative approach was used. A purposive sampling strategy was adopted to recruit participants. Those with more than three months swelling and who had low adherence and/or attendance (disengaged) to the CO program were invited to participate. Semi-structured interviews with six participants from a CO clinic in a tertiary hospital were conducted. Data were thematically analyzed and findings in terms of enablers and barriers were subsequently reflected in the light of a theoretical framework.

Results: All six participants were morbidly obese (BMI 47 ± 4 kg/m2) with multiple chronic comorbidities. Enablers and barriers detected included physical, psychological and social factors that interplay to present multidimensional challenges that influence the participants’ adjustment to managing their CO. For the disengaged participants in this study, their under-managed lower limb CO was a progression towards being housebound and having a gradually increasing level of disability.

Conclusion: This study has identified the multidimensional challenges faced by low adherent and/or disengaged participants with lower limb CO to participating in a hospital-based CO program. Perceived enablers and barriers included physical, psychological and social factors. These were mapped using a health behavior change theoretical framework. Understanding these challenges has implications for developing a multidisciplinary approach aimed at enhancing patient engagement and participation in the physiotherapy CO program.


behaviour, edema, legs, body limbs, motivation, walking, obesity

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