Dr Keith Rome shares the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research’s highlights across 2022; notably with increasing engagement from APodA members
A very warm welcome to everyone from the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research editorial team. The editorial team has been very busy this year, with an increase in the number of submitted manuscripts from APodA members.
The impact factor of the journal has increased to 3.05, an achievement that, back in 2007 when the journal was launched, would have only been a dream. This year we have also published seven guidelines relating to the 2021 Australian evidence-based guidelines for diabetes-related foot disease. I would like to thank again the members of the editorial board committee that includes Dr Andrew Buldt, Dr Daniel Bonanno and Associate Professor Cylie Williams who have been working tirelessly and in their own time to ensure we produce a high-quality journal for clinicians, as well as researchers based in Australia. My final comment is a thank you to all those APodA members who have acted as reviewers, and who have made the journal a success story.
I have highlighted key performance statistics:
I have highlighted four articles from this year that illustrate the diversity of research being conducted in Australia.
Article 1. Williams, C.M., Banwell, H.A., Paterson, K.L. et al. Parents, health professionals and footwear stakeholders’ beliefs on the importance of different features of young children’s footwear: a qualitative study. J Foot Ankle Res 15, 73 (2022).
The research aimed to describe how different stakeholders (health professionals, parents, and footwear industry representatives) described the importance of flexibility and other footwear features for young children. This was a qualitative study nested within an international modified Delphi online survey. Participants responded to open-ended questions about footwear component flexibility and asked if and why flexibility in these areas were important. Participants also described any other important footwear features. Inductive thematic analysis was used to generate themes. There were 121 responses from three stakeholder groups including health professionals (n = 90), parents of young children (n = 26) and footwear industry representatives (n = 5).
Overarching themes described by participants included developmental impacts of footwear, therapeutic impact and how footwear may play a role in function. The authors concluded there were key differences in how stakeholders viewed footwear and any perceived benefits of footwear components, much of which was not backed with empirical evidence. It was also identified that health professionals are using footwear within treatment recommendations. This work highlights the importance of understanding circumstances in which footwear may have a therapeutic impact or be the first line of treatment for children with complex foot needs.
Article 2. Sadler, S., Gerrard, J., West, M. et al. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ perceptions of foot and lower limb health: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res 15, 55 (2022).
The aim of the systematic review was to evaluate studies investigating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ perceptions of foot and lower limb health. A number of research databases that included PubMeD, Ovid (Embase, Emcare, Medline), CINAHL, Informit Indigenous collection, and grey literature sources were searched to 23rd July 2021.
The review included any published reports or studies that examined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ perceptions of foot and lower limb health, or meanings of, or attitudes to, foot and lower limb health. Four studies with a total of 1515 participants were included.
Studies found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people self-assessed foot health with a demonstrated ability to perceive their feet as healthy relative to Western clinical measures of peripheral blood supply and neurological function. Footwear, including ill-fitting or lack of footwear, was considered a contributing factor to reduced foot and lower limb health. Foot pain affected up to 60% of participants, with up to 70% of foot pain untreated. Lack of access to culturally safe health care delivered by culturally capable health professionals was perceived to contribute to worse foot and lower limb health outcomes.
In conclusion, the authors reported that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ perceptions of foot and lower limb health are influenced by multiple complex interrelated factors. The limited number of studies in this area indicates ongoing failings to consult First Nations Peoples regarding their own lower limb and foot health. It is therefore essential that healthcare service and cultural capability implementation is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in co-design.
Article 3. Kaminski, M.R., Golledge, J., Lasschuit, J.W.J. et al. Australian guideline on prevention of foot ulceration: part of the 2021 Australian evidence-based guidelines for diabetes-related foot disease. J Foot Ankle Res 15, 53 (2022).
There are no current Australian guidelines on the prevention of diabetes-related foot ulceration (DFU). A national expert panel aimed to systematically identify and adapt suitable international guidelines to the Australian context to create new Australian evidence-based guidelines on prevention of first-ever and/or recurrent DFU. These guidelines will include for the first-time considerations for rural and remote, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The National Health and Medical Research Council procedures were followed to adapt suitable international guidelines on DFU prevention to the Australian health context. This included a search of public databases after which the International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot (IWGDF) prevention guideline was deemed the most appropriate for adaptation.
The 16 IWGDF prevention recommendations were assessed using the ADAPTE and GRADE systems to decide if they should be adopted, adapted or excluded for the new Australian guideline. The quality of evidence and strength of recommendation ratings were re-evaluated with reference to the Australian context. This guideline underwent public consultation, further revision, and approval by national peak bodies.
Of the 16 original IWGDF prevention recommendations, nine were adopted, six were adapted and one was excluded. It is recommended that all people at increased risk of DFU are assessed at intervals corresponding to the IWGDF risk ratings. For those at increased risk, structured education about appropriate foot protection, inspection, footwear, weight-bearing activities, and foot self-care is recommended. Prescription of orthotic interventions and/or medical grade footwear, providing integrated foot care, and self-monitoring of foot skin temperatures (contingent on validated, user-friendly and affordable systems becoming available in Australia) may also assist in preventing DFU. If the above recommended non-surgical treatment fails, the use of various surgical interventions for the prevention of DFU can be considered.
In conclusion, the authors reported that the new Australian evidence-based guideline on prevention of DFU, endorsed by 10 national peak bodies, provides specific recommendations for relevant health professionals and consumers in the Australian context to prevent DFU. Following these recommendations should achieve better DFU prevention outcomes in Australia.
Article 4. Cotchett, M., Frescos, N., Whittaker, G.A. et al. Psychological factors associated with foot and ankle pain: a mixed methods systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res 15, 10 (2022).
The objectives of this review were to evaluate:
A mixed methods systematic review was conducted. The databases MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, PsychInfo, and Scopus were searched. The Mixed Methods Assessment Tool was used to evaluate study quality. A convergent segregated approach was used to synthesise and integrate quantitative and qualitative data.
Eighteen studies were included, consisting of 13 quantitative, four qualitative and one mixed methods study. The overall quality of the studies was considered high. Integration of the quantitative and qualitative data were not possible due to the disparate nature of the included studies.
A narrative synthesis of the quantitative data revealed that negative emotional and cognitive factors were more common in people with foot/ankle pain compared to those without foot/ankle pain. A significant association was also found between emotional distress with foot pain and foot function in some people with plantar heel pain.
In addition, kinesiophobia and pain catastrophising were significantly associated with impaired foot function, and pain catastrophising was significantly associated with first step pain in people with plantar heel pain.
The qualitative data revealed emotional impacts, physical challenges, and a loss of self which was individual and unpredictable. In conclusion, the authors reported the review provides evidence that negative psychological constructs are greater in participants with foot/ankle pain compared to those without foot/ankle pain, although the cross-sectional nature of the study designs included in this review reduces the certainty of the evidence. These findings indicate that psychological constructs are associated with foot/ankle pain.
In summary, 2022 has again illustrated the wealth and depth of research being published by APodA members that have significant ramifications to clinical practice. I encourage members to review the articles published in the journal, which is an open access journal, free of charge. Finally, I would like to thank APodA for their full support of the journal.
Professor Keith Rome (editor-in-chief Australia)