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Uncertainty about cellulitis and unmet patient information needs: a mixed methods study in primary and secondary care

Teasdale, Emma; Lalonde, Anna; Muller, Ingrid; Chalmers, Joanne; Smart, Peter; Hooper, Julie; El-Gohary, Magdy; Thomas, Kim S.; Santer, Miriam


Emma Teasdale

Anna Lalonde

Ingrid Muller

Joanne Chalmers

Peter Smart

Julie Hooper

Magdy El-Gohary

Miriam Santer


Background: Cellulitis is a painful infection of the skin and underlying tissues, commonly affecting the lower leg: approximately a third of people experience recurrence. Patients’ ability to recover from cellulitis or prevent recurrence is likely to be influenced by their understanding of the condition.

Aim: To explore patients’ perceptions of cellulitis and their information needs.

Design and Setting: Mixed methods study comprising semi‐structured, face‐to‐face interviews and a cross‐sectional survey, recruiting through primary care, secondary care and advertising.

Methods: Adults aged 18 or over with a history of cellulitis were invited to take part in a survey, qualitative interview, or both.

Results: Thirty interviews were conducted between August 2016 and July 2017. Qualitative data highlighted: (1) low awareness of cellulitis prior to first episode, 2) uncertainty around the time of diagnosis, 3) concern/surprise at the severity of cellulitis, 4) perceived insufficient information provision. People were surprised they had never heard of cellulitis and that they had not received advice or leaflets giving self‐care information. Some sought information from the internet and found this confusing. Two hundred and forty surveys were completed (response rate 17%). These showed that, while many participants had received information on the treatment of cellulitis (60.0%, n=144), they often reported receiving no information about causes (60.8%, n=146) or prevention of recurrence (73.3%, n=176).

Conclusions: There is a need to provide information for people with cellulitis, particularly around (1) the name of their condition, (2) managing acute episodes and (3) reducing risk of recurrences.


Teasdale, E., Lalonde, A., Muller, I., Chalmers, J., Smart, P., Hooper, J., …Santer, M. (2019). Uncertainty about cellulitis and unmet patient information needs: a mixed methods study in primary and secondary care. British Journal of General Practice, 69(681), e279-e286.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 14, 2018
Online Publication Date Apr 1, 2019
Publication Date Apr 1, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 17, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 2, 2020
Journal British Journal of General Practice
Print ISSN 0960-1643
Electronic ISSN 1478-5242
Publisher Royal College of General Practitioners
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 69
Issue 681
Pages e279-e286
Keywords Family Practice
Public URL
Publisher URL


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