Objective: To evaluate the influence of podiatrist activities on the outpatient care of diabetic patients in terms of knowledge of diabetic foot care, self-care, and minor foot problems.
Research design and methods: There were 733 patients, aged 10-79 years, identified from the national diabetes register. Patients without recent visits to a podiatrist and without an obvious need for foot care were randomized into a podiatric care group (education and primary prevention measures, n = 267) and a control group (written instructions only, n = 263). The patients were examined by an independent study podiatrist at baseline and after 1 year.
Results: Patients in the podiatrist group had greater improvement in knowledge of diabetic foot care (P = 0.004) and self-care (P < 0.001) scores compared with control subjects. The prevalence of callosities in regions other than the calcaneal region decreased more (P = 0.009) in the podiatrist group (from 54.5 to 39.5%) than in the control group (from 51.3 to 48.2%), and the size of the callosities decreased more (P < 0.001) in the podiatrist group than in the control group. Reduction in the prevalence of callosities was associated with younger age (< 50 years).
Conclusions: Education and primary preventive measures provided individually by a podiatrist result in significant improvements in knowledge and foot self-care scores and in improvements in the prevalence of some minor foot problems. Long-term studies are needed to evaluate whether the intervention of podiatrists starting at an early phase would lead to a reduction in major foot problems.