n South African Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease - Risk factors for diabetic foot ulceration - achieving best practice

Volume 15 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1811-6515


Objective: The main purpose of the study was to investigate the need for podiatrists as members of the primary healthcare team. One of the objectives of the study was to determine the percentage of patients presenting at the two primary healthcare clinics who are at risk of developing foot complications as a result of an underlying concomitant systemic disease. 

Methods: This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study in which data were collected from patients presenting at two homogeneously selected primary healthcare clinics in Johannesburg. Nursing staff assisted by a final-year podiatry student collected data using a self-constructed data-collection form from each consenting patient as part of their routine patient consultation. Simple descriptive statistics were used for data analysis. 

Results: Data were collected and analysed from 1 077 patients and showed that 29% of the patients had diabetes. Diabetic foot ulceration risk factors that were recorded included peripheral neuropathy in 74% of the diabetic patients, structural foot deformities in 47%, peripheral vascular symptoms in 39% and foot ulcer in 28% of the diabetic patients. 

Conclusion: Early identification of diabetic patients who are at high risk of diabetic foot ulceration is important and can be achieved via mandatory diabetic foot screening with subsequent multi-disciplinary foot-care interventions. Understanding the factors that place patients with diabetes at high risk of ulceration, together with an appreciation of the links between different aspects of the disease process and foot function, is essential for the prevention and management of diabetic foot complications.

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