Impact of an educational program on the quality of life of patients with lymphedema: A preliminary evaluation.

The authors report on the preliminary evaluation of a well-designed program, Living with Lymphedema. This longitudinal cohort study assessed patients’ quality of life using questionnaires. Their main objective was to evaluate the satisfaction of the patients and their adherence to the program. This was done using a specific questionnaire of satisfaction as well as by noting patients’ adherence to the program (number of patients attending all three consultations). The secondary objective was to assess the effect of the program on the patient’s quality of life. The assessment criteria were the evolution of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey and EuroQol questionnaire scores between the first (C1) and third (C3) consultations.

The Living with Lymphedema program targeted all patients with lymphedema in the Grenoble (France) conurbation and within the GRANTED health care network that includes vascular medicine specialists, primary care physicians, physical therapists, and dietitians in the Alpine region of France. All studied patients were ambulatory patients. The GRANTED network took care only of the educational aspect of the disease. All patients with primary or secondary lymphedema were offered the Living with Lymphedema program, whatever their age and the location of the lymphedema (upper or lower limbs). The Living with Lymphedema program targeted all patients with lymphedema in the Grenoble (France) conurbation and within the GRANTED health care network that includes vascular medicine specialists, primary care physicians, physical therapists, and dietitians in the Alpine region of France. All studied patients were ambulatory patients. The GRANTED network took care only of the educational aspect of the disease. All patients with primary or secondary lymphedema were offered the Living with Lymphedema program, whatever their age and the location of the lymphedema (upper or lower limbs).

The cohort was the 34 patients included in the program. We found a significant improvement in the physical dimension of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey score (P = .01) between C1 and C3 but not for the psychic dimension. Visual analog scale scores of the ability to cope with the lymphedema showed a statistically significant improvement between C1 and C3 (P = .05). No difference was observed in adherence to compression therapy. This therapeutic educational program showed a significant improvement in several criteria of quality of life and in the autonomy of patients with lymphedema.

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