Date Presented 04/21/2023

Lymphedema is an ongoing disease that requires daily self-management to control symptoms and decrease the risk of progression. Patient adherence with self management programs is an important part of daily maintenance. Understanding the factors that affect patient adherence will allow clinicians to improve outcomes and quality of life for their clients.

Primary Author and Speaker: Patricia Watford

Additional Authors and Speakers: Caroline Corso, Jamie Freeman, Mia Marrow, Melinda Coody, Montana Moreno, Alexis Perkins

PURPOSE: Lymphedema is a chronic condition that requires ongoing self-management and impacts 250 million people worldwide (Lopez et al., 2020).Currently there is limited research that specifically addresses factors related to patient adherence with lymphedema self-management. The purpose of this scoping review is to determine the factors that influence adherence with self-management of chronic lymphedema during Phase 2 of complete decongestive therapy for those with lymphedema.

DESIGN: We conducted a scoping review to gather evidence related to self- management among lymphedema patients following the Arksey and O'Malley’s (2005) framework for scoping reviews.

METHOD: Information sources included: CINAHL Plus, Nursing and Allied Health Source, and PubMed. Inclusion criteria required articles to have: participants aged 21 years and older with a lymphedema diagnosis who were instructed to perform self-management. We excluded systematic reviews, meta-analyses, literature reviews, expert opinions, and gray literature. Reliability checks for article inclusion/exclusion and data extraction were conducted.

RESULTS: Research is ongoing, but preliminary themes suggest factors such as cost, ease of application of compression garments, time, and patient education all contribute to adherence with self-management of lymphedema.

CONCLUSION: These findings will assist clinicians in identifying key factors that can improve client’s adherence with self-management of lymphedema, which will ultimately improve outcomes. In addition, these findings will guide further research towards improving patient adherence and quality of life.


Arskey, H. & O’Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: Towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19–32.

Lopez, M., Roberson, M., Strassle, P., & Ogunleye, A. (2020). Epidemiology of lymphedema-related admissions in the United States: 2012–2017. Surgical Oncology, 35, 249–253.