Aim. This paper reports a study assessing the impact of the provision of expert tele-advice to community nurses in enhancing their knowledge of leg ulcer care.
Background. Community nurses have traditionally been responsible for the care of patients with leg ulcers. However, access to expert medical and nursing advice has been restricted to the local hospital environment. The introduction of e-health and telemedicine have created opportunities to provide online and immediate access to wound care expertise from centres of excellence to primary health care staff in managing patients’ wounds in their own home.
Method. A stratified randomized controlled trial was used to examine community nurses’ knowledge before and after the provision of expert tele-advice. A knowledge measurement tool comprised of 40 multiple-choice questions was adopted, with correct responses identified by a panel of wound care experts. The questions covered the three themes of dressings, management and physiology, with different levels of difficulty categorized as easy, medium or difficult. The tool was administered before and after the intervention (12 weeks) to both the experimental and control groups.
Results. Statistically significant improvements were observed only for the experimental group in the areas of dressings and management, as well as in the medium level questions. No statistically significant improvement was seen for the easy questions, as there was little room for improvement because of preintervention high scores. For the difficult questions, it was thought that more time would be needed for a more positive outcome.
Conclusions. The results suggest that tele-advice can be of great benefit to community nurses in enhancing their knowledge in the practice of leg ulcer care. This will have significant implications for more efficient use of human resources and cost effectiveness in wound care.