People with diabetes often suffer from foot ulceration. It's even more of a problem if the diabetic has peripheral neuropathy and/or peripheral vascular disease.
Pain aside, what's worse is that some people with these ulcers may need to have a partial or total amputation of the affected limb.
What's the result?
Loss of quality of life
In addition, NHS healthcare costs go up.
So, what to do about foot care education for diabetics?
We think health professionals can help by educating diabetic people on how to prevent them developing ulcers in the first place.
Why? It seems common sense to us but, in addition, there was a systematic review to examine patient education programmes designed to prevent diabetic foot ulcers. Read on...
The Study About Diabetic Foot Care Education In Brief
There were 11 randomised controlled trials
In all, they studied more than two and a half thousand adults who had type 1 or type 2 diabetes
They compared the programmes with usual care, bespoke care and no intervention
The study evaluated educational programmes that were designed with reducing foot ulcer incidence in mind - they also looked at the incidence of recurrence of ulcers, amputation, callous development, fungal infection, and the number of hospital admissions (and the duration of stays).
Bear in mind this type of study is at risk of bias. The results were mixed and the conclusion was that further studies need to show better methodology and explicitly define the content of the packages/programmes. They also need to distinguish between what is considered to be standard education/information and the experimental programmes/packages.
Recommendation for Diabetic Foot Care Education
Education alone won't prevent foot ulceration and amputations. Nonetheless, raising patient awareness on what will happen if they don't look after their feet pays an important part in health care.
Indications from the study are that reductions in the incidence of ulcers and amputation could be effected by more comprehensive and preventative interventions which include specific education programmes.
We would like to see health professionals (nurses, doctors, foot care and other complementary therapists) offer education and advice. Those who are not trained in anatomy and physiology or diabetes could approach health professionals for materials to give to their clients and patients; the materials would include the contact details of the health professionals and other people to contact.
Study Reference: Dorresteijn J et al(2010) 'Patient education for preventing diabetic foot ulceration'