Physician knowledge of a rare foot condition - influence of diabetic patient population on self-described knowledge and treatment

Clin Diabetes Endocrinol. 2017 Feb 8:3:2. doi: 10.1186/s40842-017-0041-4. eCollection 2017.


Background: Charcot neuroarthopathy (CN), a rare foot and ankle condition usually complicating diabetes mellitus, leads to deformity, poor quality of life, and increased mortality and morbidity. The prevalence of this condition in the diabetic patient population is not currently known but has been reportedly misdiagnosed in up to 95% of cases.

Methods: We sought to evaluate general knowledge regarding CN in non-foot specialist clinical faculty at a large academic institution and to understand their practice habits. Our survey emphasizes the necessity of better education surrounding CN to improve outcomes in a preventative fashion. This will enable us to determine how to focus educational forums surrounding this topic in the future.

Results: Seven hundred eighty-nine faculty members were sent the survey while 400 completed the survey for a response rate of 50.7%. The respondents were representative of academic rank at the institution and were comprised of endocrinologists, internal medicine physicians and family medicine physicians. We found that 67.6% of responders had a self-described poor or complete lack of knowledge of this condition. Clinicians with self-described better knowledge of CN were more likely to provide a correct initial management of CN (p < 0.001; r = 0.3639).

Conclusions: In this large tertiary institution, a majority of providers among internal medicine, endocrinologists, and family medicine physicians demonstrated minimal or no knowledge of this rare, but potentially devastating diabetes complication. However, those providers who are knowledgeable of CN, performed better in the initial management of this condition. Also, respondents who treated more diabetic patients demonstrated an association with correct management. Education, and the development of better understanding amongst clinicians, is crucial to limit the devastating effects of this condition in the future.