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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

The clinical assessment study of the foot (CASF): study protocol for a prospective observational study of foot pain and foot osteoarthritis in the general population

Edward Roddy1*, Helen Myers1, Martin J Thomas1, Michelle Marshall1, Deborah D'Cruz1, Hylton B Menz12, John Belcher1, Sara Muller1 and George Peat1

Author Affiliations

1 Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Primary Care Sciences, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK

2 Musculoskeletal Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria 3086, Australia

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Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 2011, 4:22  doi:10.1186/1757-1146-4-22

Published: 5 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) affects approximately 10% of adults aged over 60 years. The foot joint complex is commonly affected by OA, yet there is relatively little research into OA of the foot, compared with other frequently affected sites such as the knee and hand. Existing epidemiological studies of foot OA have focussed predominantly on the first metatarsophalangeal joint at the expense of other joints. This three-year prospective population-based observational cohort study will describe the prevalence of symptomatic radiographic foot OA, relate its occurrence to symptoms, examination findings and life-style-factors, describe the natural history of foot OA, and examine how it presents to, and is diagnosed and managed in primary care.

Methods

All adults aged 50 years and over registered with four general practices in North Staffordshire, UK, will be invited to participate in a postal Health Survey questionnaire. Respondents to the questionnaire who indicate that they have experienced foot pain in the preceding twelve months will be invited to attend a research clinic for a detailed clinical assessment. This assessment will consist of: clinical interview; physical examination; digital photography of both feet and ankles; plain x-rays of both feet, ankles and hands; ultrasound examination of the plantar fascia; anthropometric measurement; and a further self-complete questionnaire. Follow-up will be undertaken in consenting participants by postal questionnaire at 18 months (clinic attenders only) and three years (clinic attenders and survey participants), and also by review of medical records.

Discussion

This three-year prospective epidemiological study will combine survey data, comprehensive clinical, x-ray and ultrasound assessment, and review of primary care records to identify radiographic phenotypes of foot OA in a population of community-dwelling older adults, and describe their impact on symptoms, function and clinical examination findings, and their presentation, diagnosis and management in primary care.