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Open Access Research

Foot health education for people with rheumatoid arthritis: the practitioner's perspective

Andrea S Graham12*, Alison Hammond1 and Anita E Williams12

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Health, Sport and Rehabilitation Research, University of Salford, Frederick Road, Salford, UK

2 Directorate of Prosthetics, Orthotics and Podiatry, University of Salford, Frederick Road, Salford, UK

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Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 2012, 5:2  doi:10.1186/1757-1146-5-2

Published: 10 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Patient education is considered to be a key role for podiatrists in the management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Patient education has undoubtedly led to improved clinical outcomes, however no attempts have been made to optimise its content or delivery to maximise benefits within the context of the foot affected by rheumatoid arthritis. The aim of this study was to identify the nature and content of podiatrists' foot health education for people with RA. Any potential barriers to its provision were also explored.

Methods

A focus group was conducted. The audio dialogue was recorded digitally, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a structured, thematic approach. The full transcription was verified by the focus group as an accurate account of what was said. The thematic analysis framework was verified by members of the research team to ensure validity of the data.

Results

Twelve members (all female) of the north west Podiatry Clinical Effectiveness Group for Rheumatology participated. Six overarching themes emerged: (i) the essence of patient education; (ii) the content; (iii) patient-centred approach to content and timing; (iv) barriers to provision; (v) the therapeutic relationship; and (vi) tools of the trade.

Conclusion

The study identified aspects of patient education that this group of podiatrists consider most important in relation to its: content, timing, delivery and barriers to its provision. General disease and foot health information in relation to RA together with a potential prognosis for foot health, the role of the podiatrist in management of foot health, and appropriate self-management strategies were considered to be key aspects of content, delivered according to the needs of the individual. Barriers to foot health education provision, including financial constraints and difficulties in establishing effective therapeutic relationships, were viewed as factors that strongly influenced foot health education provision. These data will contribute to the development of a patient-centred, negotiated approach to the provision of foot health education for people with RA.