Predictors of podiatry utilisation in Australia: the North West Adelaide Health Study

J Foot Ankle Res. 2008 Aug 19;1(1):8. doi: 10.1186/1757-1146-1-8.


Background: Foot problems are highly prevalent in the community; however no large population-based studies have examined the characteristics of those who do and do not access podiatry services in Australia. The aim of this study was to explore patterns of podiatry utilisation in a population-based sample of people aged 18 years and over living in the northwest region of Adelaide, South Australia.

Methods: The North West Adelaide Health Study is a representative longitudinal cohort study of 4,060 people randomly selected and recruited by telephone interview. The interview included questions regarding healthcare service utilisation in the past year. Data were also collected on education, income and major medical conditions.

Results: Overall, 9.5% of the total sample and 17.7% of those who reported foot pain had attended a podiatrist in the past year. Participants who had accessed podiatry treatment were more likely to be female, be aged over 45 years, be obese, and have major chronic medical conditions (osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure). Those who reported foot pain but had not accessed a podiatrist were more likely to be male and be aged 20 to 34 years.

Conclusion: Only a small proportion of people who report foot pain have accessed podiatry services in the past year. There is a need to further promote podiatry services to the general community, particularly to men and younger people.