Background: Foot problems are common in older adults and associated with poorer physical function, falls, frailty and reduced quality of life. Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA), a multidisciplinary process that is considered the gold standard of care for older adults, does not routinely include podiatry assessment and intervention in hospitalized older adults.
Aims: To introduce foot assessment to inpatient CGA to determine prevalence of foot disease, foot disease risk factors and inappropriate footwear use, assess inter-rater reliability of foot assessments, determine current podiatry input and examine associations between patient characteristics and foot disease risks.
Methods: Prospective, observational cohort study of older adults on geriatric rehabilitation wards. Foot assessment completed using the Queensland Foot Disease Form (QFDF) in addition to routine CGA.
Results: Fifty-two patients (median age [inter-quartile range] 86.4 [79.2-90.3] years, 54% female) were included. Six patients (12%) had foot disease and 13 (25%) had a 'high risk' or 'at risk' foot. Foot disease risk factor prevalence was peripheral arterial disease 9 (17%); neuropathy 10 (19%) and foot deformity 11 (22%). Forty-one patients (85%) wore inappropriate footwear. Inter-rater agreement was substantial on presence of foot disease and arterial disease, fair to moderate on foot deformity and fair on neuropathy and inappropriate footwear. Eight patients (15%) saw a podiatrist during admission: 5 with foot disease, 1 'at risk' and 2 'low risk' for foot disease. Patients with an at risk foot or foot disease had significantly longer median length of hospital stay (25 [13.7-32.1] vs 15.2 [8-22.1] days, p = 0.01) and higher median Malnutrition Screening Test scores (2 [0-3] vs 0 [0-2], p = 0.03) than the low-risk group. Patients with foot disease were most likely to see a podiatrist (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Foot disease, foot disease risk factors and inappropriate footwear are common in hospitalized older adults, however podiatry assessment and intervention is mostly limited to patients with foot disease. Addition of routine podiatry assessment to the multidisciplinary CGA team should be considered. Examination for arterial disease and risk of malnutrition may be useful to identify at risk patients for podiatry review.
Keywords: Aged; Foot; Foot diseases; Geriatric assessment.