Background  In Hong Kong, at the time of the study, compression treatment was not considered usual care for venous leg ulcer patients.

Aim  This randomized controlled trial compared quality of life (QOL) aspects in venous leg ulcer patients of over 55-years of age, of short-stretch compression (SSB), four-layer compression bandaging (4LB) and usual care (UC) (moist wound healing dressing, no compression).

Method  Study period was 24-weeks, the primary outcome was the patient functional status, disease-specific and generic health-related QOL measures and ulcer healing rates, comparing week 1 vs. week 24 (end) results. Assessments included photogrammetry, Brief Pain Inventory, SF-12 Health Survey, Charing Cross Venous Ulcer Questionnaire and Frenchay Activity Index. Data analysis was performed using, where appropriate; Kaplan Meier and log rank chi-square and the repeated measures analysis of variance test.

Results  A total of 321 patients participated in the study, 45 (14%) withdrew for various reasons. Compression bandaging in both groups significantly reduced pain (< 0.0001) and improved functional status and QOL. Healing rate at 24 weeks for both compression groups was significant (< 0.001); for SSB this was 72.0% (77/107) vs. 67.3% in the 4LB group (72/107) and 29.0% (31/107) with usual care. The reduction in ulcer area from weeks 12 to 24 was significant only for SSB (< 0.047).

Conclusion  Compression was shown to be feasible for elderly community care patients in Hong Kong and is currently implemented as part of standard venous leg ulcer treatment.