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Mind over matter? The psychology of healing
Date:8/2/2010

People suffering from diabetes-related foot ulcers show different rates of healing according to the way they cope and their psychological state of mind, according to new research by a health psychologist at The University of Nottingham.

The large study published in the journal Diabetologia this month has shown that the way patients cope with the condition and their levels of depression, affect how the wound heals or worsens.

The work by Professor Kavita Vedhara from the University's Institute of Work, Health and Organisations, has sparked a follow-on project to develop psychological treatments to reduce depression in sufferers and help them cope more effectively with this debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition.

Foot ulcers are open sores which form when a minor skin injury fails to heal because of microvascular and metabolic dysfunction caused by diabetes. Up to fifteen per cent of people with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, develop foot or leg ulcers with many suffering depression and poorer quality of life as a result.

The increased morbidity and mortality caused by the condition are estimated to cost UK health services 220 million per year. The costs are exacerbated by slow healing rates with two thirds of ulcers remaining unhealed after 20 weeks of treatment. The five year amputation and death rates among patients are 19 per cent and 44 per cent respectively. Ulcers account for around four out of five lower leg amputations and half of diabetes-related hospital admissions.

During the five-year study 93 patients (68 men and 25 women) with diabetic foot ulcers were recruited from specialist podiatry clinics across the UK. Clinical and demographic determinants of healing; psychological distress, coping style and levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in saliva were assessed and recorded at the start of a 24 week monitoring period. The size of each patient's ulcer was also measured at the st
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Contact: Emma Rayner
emma.rayner@nottingham.ac.uk
44-115-951-5793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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