Consistency of visual assessments of arch height among clinicians

Foot Ankle Int. 1994 Apr;15(4):213-7. doi: 10.1177/107110079401500411.


Flat feet and high-arched feet have been cited as risk factors for musculoskeletal injury and functional problems among runners and other active individuals, although there are no established quantitative definitions or measures for assessing either condition. As part of a larger study, four-plane photographs were made of the weight-bearing right foot of 246 young male Army trainees. These photographs were independently evaluated by six clinicians and rated on a scale of clearly flat-footed (category 1) to clearly high arched (category 5). There was much interclinician variability in the assessments, even for extremes of foot type. The probability of a clinician assessing a foot as clearly flat, given that another clinician had rated the foot as clearly flat, ranged from 0.32 to 0.79, with a median probability of 0.57, while for clearly high-arched feet, probabilities ranged from 0.0 to 1.00, with a median of 0.17. These findings demonstrate the need for objective standards and quantitative methods of evaluating foot morphology.

MeSH terms

  • Flatfoot / pathology*
  • Foot / anatomy & histology*
  • Forefoot, Human / anatomy & histology
  • Heel / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Military Personnel
  • Observer Variation
  • Photography / instrumentation
  • Photography / methods
  • Probability
  • Weight-Bearing