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Keywords:

  • Chronic wounds;
  • Cortisol;
  • Cytokines;
  • Delayed wound healing;
  • Pain;
  • Stress

This review and case study report considers the evidence to indicate that the progress of wound healing is negatively affected by the presence of stressors and in circumstances where patients are in pain. It considers the relationship between perceptions of pain, stress and delayed wound healing with a specific focus on guidance for clinical practice. It is appreciated that although the literature has examined these issues in the management of acute wounds, demonstrating that psychological stress can have detrimental effects on the wound-healing process, the evidence to support this link in relation to chronic wounds is limited. The review considers evidence indicating that punch biopsy wounds heal more slowly in subjects under stress on account of caring for family members with long-term illnesses and also considers briefly the relationship between cortisol secretion in response to stress and the consequent influences on cytokine levels and the wound-healing process.