Research often sits behind the scenes for clinicians as an undervalued resource. Yet it is widely recognised that research is important to:
1. Build and strengthen the science-base in health care delivery:
The growth of the evidence-based practice movement from the 1990s has seen an increase in the need for research evidence to underpin practice – and for professions to develop an evidence-base to support the activities they already do. Allied health, and not least, the podiatry profession, has embraced this movement strongly to justify and support existing areas of practice, as well as enabling the profession to explore new opportunities and activities.
2. Promote health gains and service improvement:
This involves finding solutions to common problems, to maximise health gain for individuals and communities, and to reduce health inequalities.
3. Promote economic wealth and gain:
Research enables us to develop more cost-effective interventions for health care. It also supports economic benefits by developing a healthy workforce. This maximises opportunities for commercial development and intellectual property, which highlights the intrinsic value to society in promoting health gain for whole communities (by reducing the morbidity and illness burden on society).
What kinds of research has APERF supported?
All of the APERF funded projects can be viewed here and they broadly fall under three main headings:
1. Understanding the epidemiology of podiatric conditions
These include studies of growing pains in children, studies of risk factors and treatment for foot ulcers in diabetes, and factors associated with foot pain severity and foot-related disability in individuals with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis.
2. Improving clinical practice
Examples of APERF-funded projects that contribute to the international evidence-base for clinical practice in the podiatry profession include:
- The validation of biomechanical measurements and the effects and effectiveness of foot orthoses
- The effectiveness of treatments for neuromuscular disease as well as studies of lower limb muscle function and whether this alters with different foot types and treatment.
- Clinical trials that evaluate the effectiveness of treatments for heel pain, foot osteoarthritis and Achilles tendinopathy are also covered.
Examples of some of the published outputs of APERF projects include:
- Non-surgical treatment of osteoarthritis affecting the first metatarsophalangeal joint
- Ultrasound guided injection of dexamethasone versus placebo for treatment of plantar fasciitis.
- The development of clinical guidelines for localised musculoskeletal foot pain
- A comparison of augmented low-Dye taping and ankle bracing on lower limb muscle activity during walking in adults with flat-arched foot posture
- Total contact casting for people with diabetes.