Systematic review of patient preference and adherence to the correct use of graduated compression stockings to prevent deep vein thrombosis in surgical patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To explore patient preference and adherence to thigh and knee length graduated compression stockings for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis in surgical patients.

Background: Hospitalised patients are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. Mechanical methods of prophylaxis include compression stockings, available as knee or thigh length. Patient adherence to correct stocking use is of critical importance to their effectiveness.

Design: Systematic review of quantitative evidence.

Data sources: Eleven databases were searched from inception to 2013 for systematic reviews of compression stockings. Reviews were screened for relevant primary studies and update searches of eight electronic sources were undertaken (2010-2014).

Review methods: Randomised controlled trials and observational studies of surgical patients using compression stockings were quality assessed and data were extracted on patient adherence and preference. A narrative summary is presented.

Results: Nine randomised controlled trials and seven observational studies were included in the systematic review. There was substantial variation between studies in terms of patient characteristics, interventions and methods of outcome assessment.

Conclusion: Patient adherence was generally higher with knee length than thigh length stockings. However, the studies reflect patient adherence in a hospital setting only, where patients are observed by healthcare professionals; it is likely that adherence reduces once patients have been discharged from hospital. Patients preferred knee length stockings over thigh length stockings. In many clinical settings any difference in efficacy between thigh length and knee length stockings may be rendered irrelevant by patient preference for and likely better adherence to knee length stockings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-348
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number2
Early online date14 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

© Wiley, 2016. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details. Embargo period: 12 months


  • Patient preference
  • Patient adherence
  • Graduated compression stocking
  • Anti-embolism stocking
  • Deep vein thrombosis DVT
  • Literature review
  • Systematic review
  • Nursing

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