Foot Problems in Patients in Acute Care: A Point-Prevalence Survey

J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2020 Sep/Oct;47(5):513-520. doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000674.


Purpose: Determine the prevalence of foot problems in an inpatient population and to describe demographic data, comorbid conditions, and type of footwear worn.

Design: Observational point-prevalence cross-sectional design.

Subjects and setting: The study setting was a 722-bed licensed hospital in Western Australia. A convenience sampling was used to include adults hospitalized in the study setting during the period of data collection.

Methods: A subset of foot questions, guided by a literature review, and input from foot, wound, diabetes, and psychometric researchers and clinicians, was incorporated into the hospital point-prevalence survey conducted annually for nursing safety and quality. Trained nurses collected data during the 1-day survey. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and 2-tailed tests; associations between study variables were analyzed.

Results: Two hundred twenty-one patients participated in the survey; a majority (n = 193, 87%) self-reported at least 1 foot problem. More than half (n = 124) reported 3 foot problems and nearly one-third (n = 67) had 5 or more foot problems. Thick nails, damaged nails, and calluses and corns were the most frequently occurring foot problems. Older participants were more likely to have certain foot problems such as calluses and thick nails. Eleven (5%) participants were admitted to the hospital for a foot-related condition.

Conclusion: The majority of foot problems in our study were found to be minor and not the primary admitting diagnosis. However, even minor foot problems can pose a risk of worsening, especially in high-risk populations such as those with diabetes. Thus, detection is critical in overall patient assessment, and nurses play a critical role in assessment and management of minor foot problems through the delivery of skin and nail care and through collaboration with other professionals who provide specialized foot care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Foot / physiopathology*
  • Foot Diseases / complications
  • Foot Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoes / adverse effects
  • Shoes / standards
  • Shoes / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires