Objective: To review the research on patients' experiences of undergoing negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT).
Method: A literature search was carried out using the following databases: Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, PsychINFO, MEDLINE, PubMed and PsyARTICLES. The search covered the period from 2001 to 2012, using the key words: ['negative pressure wound therapy' OR 'vacuum-assisted closure' OR 'topical negative therapy'] AND ['patients' experiences' OR 'psychological' OR 'stress' OR 'anxiety' OR 'wellbeing' OR 'pain' OR 'quality of life' OR 'physical'].
Results: Twenty-five relevant articles were included. NPWT is generally considered to be successful in reducing wound depth and facilitating healing. However, studies have highlighted a number of issues that need to be considered. For example, the type of dressing used during treatment can have a significant effect on patients' experience of pain. Furthermore, the NPWT system can cause patients to feel anxious due to both the patient and the health professional being unfamiliar with this form of treatment. It can also restrict patients' daily care and wider social life, which may result in a negative self-image and low self-esteem. Despite this, some studies have reported positive improvements to patients' quality of life. Additionally, since NPWT can lead to faster healing, any detrimental impact upon patients' wellbeing may be short-term and less prolonged than that of other treatments.
Conclusion: Compared with other treatments, there is evidence to show that NPWT can lead to faster wound healing, and a reduced frequency of dressing changes and other treatments. However, there are a number of challenges with the use of NPWT, which need to be explored further so that improvements can be made. Specifically, certain aspects of NPWT may impact negatively on patients' wellbeing, albeit shortterm. Therefore, research needs to explore patients' experiences of NPWT throughout the treatment process and to consider how this can be improved to minimise any negative effects.
Declaration of interest: There were no external sources of funding for this study. The authors have no commercial or financial conflicts of interest to declare.