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01-12-2020 | Research | Uitgave 1/2020 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2020

´Feet are second class citizens`: exploring the perceptions of Scottish and Portuguese older adults about feet, falls and exercise- a qualitative study

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Monserrat Conde, Gordon J. Hendry, Jim Woodburn, Dawn A. Skelton
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Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13047-020-00434-8.

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Foot problems are likely to contribute to falls risk in older adults. Foot and ankle exercises may be beneficial, but uptake may be influenced by cultural factors. Few studies have explored the views of older adults from different cultural backgrounds about foot-specific falls risk factors, and foot and ankle falls prevention exercises.


To explore the views of Scottish and Portuguese community-dwelling older adults who have experienced a fall, about any foot risk factors for falls, and foot and ankle exercises.


Cross-cultural qualitative study with (n = 6) focus groups exploring the perceptions of Scottish (n = 10, mean age 76 yrs) and Portuguese older adults (n = 14, mean age 66 years) aged, applying thematic analysis.


One main theme `evolving awareness about feet and falls prevention´ and three subthemes; (i) Feet are often forgotten, (ii) the important role of footwear, (iii) need to look at my feet and do the exercises were identified. Scottish participants had more experience of falls prevention but there was a lack of knowledge surrounding foot-specific falls risk factors, and the role of ankle and foot exercise in the prevention of falls. Portuguese participants exhibited a fatalistic approach to falls.


Older adults from both nations had little knowledge of foot-specific falls risk factors, being initially unaware of the functional status of their feet and of the role of exercise in foot care and falls management. There were differences between national groups that should be accounted for when developing culturally adequate interventions.

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