• Open Access

Exploring patient perceptions of larval therapy as a potential treatment for venous leg ulceration


Karen Spilsbury
Research Fellow
Department of Health Sciences
University of York
Area 2 Seebohm Rowntree Building
YO10 5DD
E-mail: ks25@york.ac.uk


Objectives  To explore patient preferences and acceptability of two forms of larval therapy (‘bagged’ and ‘loose’).

Background  Larval therapy is frequently used to treat patients with leg ulcers. However, patient preferences and acceptability of larval therapy when compared with other treatments is not established.

Design  A survey of patient preferences between larvae and standard therapy (hydrogel) using randomized allocation of two questionnaires (‘bagged’ or ‘loose’ questionnaire). The questionnaire contained closed and open-response questions and was administered by a nurse researcher. Open responses enabled exploration of patients’ preferences and the acceptability of larval therapy when compared with a standard treatment. Qualitative data were analysed for thematic content.

Setting and participants  Thirty-five participants, aged 18 years and above, with at least one venous leg ulcer were recruited from a UK Hospital Vascular Outpatients Clinic.

Findings  Majority of participants stated that they would consider larval therapy, irrespective of method of containment. Acceptance of therapy was influenced by length of time with (or recurrence of) ulceration, experiences of other treatments, social contact in hospitals and the experiences of others. Visual imagery was a key influence among participants who would refuse larval therapy. Refusal was mostly among older women (aged 70 years or above).

Conclusions  Eliciting patient preferences and increasing patient involvement in treatment decisions is an important part of quality improvement and improved health outcomes. These findings have relevance for practitioners offering larval therapy as a treatment option and for the feasibility of clinical trials.