The foot-health of people with diabetes in regional and rural Australia: baseline results from an observational cohort study
journal contributionposted on 03.08.2021, 00:29 by Byron PerrinByron Perrin, Penny Allen, Marcus GardnerMarcus Gardner, Andrew Chappell, Bronwyn Phillips, Claire Massey, Isabelle SkinnerIsabelle Skinner, Timothy SkinnerTimothy Skinner
Background: There is limited Australian epidemiological research that reports on the foot-health characteristics of people with diabetes, especially within rural and regional settings. The objective of this study was to explore the associations between demographic, socio-economic and diabetes-related variables with diabetes-related foot morbidity in people residing in regional and rural Australia. Methods: Adults with diabetes were recruited from non-metropolitan Australian publicly-funded podiatry services. The primary variable of interest was the University of Texas diabetic foot risk classification designated to each participant at baseline. Independent risk factors for diabetes-related foot morbidity were identified using multivariable analysis. Results: Eight-hundred and ninety-nine participants enrolled, 443 (49.3%) in Tasmania and 456 (50.7%) in Victoria. Mean age was 67 years (SD 12.7), 9.2% had type 1 diabetes, 506 (56.3%) were male, 498 (55.4%) had diabetes for longer than 10 years and 550 (61.2%) either did not know the ideal HbA1c target or reported that it was ≥7.0. A majority had peripheral neuropathy or worse foot morbidity (61.0%). Foot morbidity was associated with male sex (OR 2.42, 95% CI 1.82-3.22), duration of diabetes > 20 years (OR 3.25, 95% CI 2.22-4.75), and Tasmanian residence (OR 3.38, 95% CI 2.35-4.86). Conclusions: A high proportion of the regional Australian clinical population with diabetes seen by the publicly-funded podiatric services in this study were at high risk of future limb threatening foot morbidity, and participants residing in Northern Tasmania are more likely to have worse diabetes-related foot morbidity than those from regional Victoria. Service models should be reviewed to ensure that diabetes-related foot services are appropriately developed and resourced to deliver interdisciplinary evidence-based care.