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

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2020

Foot health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in regional and rural NSW, Australia

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Matthew West, Sean Sadler, Fiona Hawke, Shannon E. Munteanu, Vivienne Chuter
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Foot health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ has not been established. Additionally, studies have shown that there is a lack of engagement of this population with general preventive foot care services. The aim of this study was to establish foot health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people attending two recently developed, culturally safe podiatry services in rural and regional New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Secondarily the relationship between self-perceived foot health and some medical and demographic characteristics was investigated.


This descriptive cross-sectional study included participants attending the culturally safe foot health care services managed by the University of Newcastle on the Central Coast or in Wellington, both located in NSW, Australia. At the consultation, participants completed the Foot Health Status Questionnaire (FHSQ) with the assistance of an Aboriginal health care worker, underwent basic vascular and neurological screening, and podiatric treatment.


A total of 111 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (48 from the Central Coast, and 63 from Wellington) were included. FHSQ scores for pain (75.7 ± 26.8), function (80.2 ± 25.2), footwear (53.9 ± 33.4), and general foot health (62.0 ± 30.9) were generally good, but below the optimal score of 100. The presence of diabetes (n = 39 of 111 participants or 35.1%) was associated with lower levels of self-perceived foot function (r = − 0.20, n = 107, p = 0.04).


We found that community-based foot health care services that are culturally safe are utilised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples not currently at high risk of foot complications. This supports the use of culturally safe foot care services to improve engagement with preventative foot care. Future research should continue to be driven by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and investigate ways to implement additional screening measures and undertake prospective evaluation of the impact of such services on health related outcomes in these communities.

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