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Confidence of recurrent cellulitis self-diagnosis among people with lymphoedema: a qualitative interview study

Patel, Mitesh; Lee, Siang Ing; Levell, Nick J.; Smart, Peter; Kai, Joe; Thomas, Kim S.; Leighton, Paul


Mitesh Patel

Siang Ing Lee

Nick J. Levell

Peter Smart

Associate Professor of Applied Health Services Research


© British Journal of General Practice 2020. BACKGROUND: Cellulitis can sometimes be challenging for healthcare professionals to diagnose, with no validated diagnostic criteria available. Supporting healthcare professionals to make a more accurate diagnosis of cellulitis in different groups, such as those with lymphoedema, is a cellulitis research priority. However, to the authors knowledge, no previous studies have looked at the involvement of non-healthcare professionals in the diagnostic process. AIM: To explore the experience of people with lymphoedema and recurrent cellulitis in the diagnosis of lower-limb cellulitis. DESIGN AND SETTING: Single, semi-structured, qualitative interviews carried out between 29 October and 19 December 2018. METHOD: Adults with a suspected episode of cellulitis who had been diagnosed in the last 12 months or had a history of recurrent cellulitis were interviewed. RESULTS: Three key themes emerged: the recurrent nature of cellulitis symptoms, participants' experience of getting a cellulitis diagnosis, and participants' suggestions of how cellulitis diagnosis might be improved. Generally, people with lymphoedema experienced similar clinical features during each of their own recurrent cellulitis episodes and were confident that they could make a self-diagnosis of cellulitis. This is also reflected in the participants' perceived trust from the healthcare professional in being able to make a self-diagnosis. A diagnostic checklist and educational resources were suggested as methods to improve diagnosis. CONCLUSION: Selected people with lymphoedema who have recurrent cellulitis are confident in self-diagnosing their own recurrent cellulitis episodes. There may be a role for greater involvement of people with lymphoedema in their cellulitis diagnosis.


Patel, M., Lee, S. I., Levell, N. J., Smart, P., Kai, J., Thomas, K. S., & Leighton, P. (2020). Confidence of recurrent cellulitis self-diagnosis among people with lymphoedema: a qualitative interview study. British Journal of General Practice, 70(691), e130-e137.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 29, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 20, 2019
Publication Date Feb 1, 2020
Deposit Date Nov 22, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 21, 2020
Journal The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Print ISSN 0960-1643
Electronic ISSN 1478-5242
Publisher Royal College of General Practitioners
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 70
Issue 691
Pages e130-e137
Public URL
Publisher URL