Patients' perspectives on foot complications in type 2 diabetes: a qualitative study

LAB Gale, K Vedhara, AJ Searle, T Kemple, Rona M Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Foot ulceration is a major health problem for people with diabetes. To minimise the risk of ulceration, patients are advised to perform preventive foot self-care.AimTo explore beliefs about diabetic foot complications and everyday foot self-care practices among people with type 2 diabetes.Design of studyQualitative study using one-to-one interviews.SettingA suburban primary care health centre.MethodSemi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of adults with type 2 diabetes but with no experience of foot ulceration.ResultsMost participants were unsure of what a foot ulcer is and unaware of the difficulties associated with ulcer healing. Prevention of accidental damage to the skin was not considered a priority, as few participants knew that this is a common cause of foot ulceration. Although it was recognised that lower-limb amputation is more common in people with diabetes, this was perceived to be predominantly caused by poor blood supply to the feet and unrelated to foot ulceration. Therefore, preventive foot care focused on stimulating blood circulation, for example by walking barefoot. Consequently, some of the behaviours participants considered beneficial for foot health could potentially increase the risk of ulceration. In some cases the uptake of advice regarding preventive foot care was hampered because participants found it difficult to communicate with health professionals.ConclusionPatients with type 2 diabetes may have beliefs about foot complications that differ from medical evidence. Such illness beliefs may play a role in foot-related behaviours that have previously been unrecognised. Health professionals need to explore and address the beliefs underlying patients' foot self-care practices.
Translated title of the contributionPatients' perspectives on foot complications in type 2 diabetes: a qualitative study
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555 - 563
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008

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