As part of an interview study of community nurses' perceptions of their work, 62 staff working within the district nursing service in one English National Health Service Trust (grades B-H) were asked to recount occasions when they had been involved in wound care and to discuss the ways in which working with patients who required such care could be either enhanced or made difficult. A large number of respondents expressed the view that non-compliance could pose serious problems for the management of wounds. Data relating to compliance are presented here and are interpreted in the light of discourse analysis, an approach which permits the researcher to focus on the meanings underlying the communications of research participants and to interpret those meanings in the light of social and cultural mores and influences. The authors found that non-compliance could be explained by nurses in a number of different ways. These ranged from passive resistance, which could be due to ignorance or lack of motivation, through overt refusal, to deliberate interference in order to prolong treatment. It also seeks to outline some of the factors that appear to motivate the nurses' desire to achieve compliance.