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Therapeutic shoes can prevent diabetic foot reulcerations but their use is complicated by the fact that shoes have psychological and social meanings, which is believed to put a larger burden on women than men. The aim was to compare attitudes and attributes of women and men using therapeutic shoes for diabetic foot complications.
A questionnaire was posted to 1230 people with diabetes who had been fitted with therapeutic shoes. Women’s and men’s answers were compared using t-tests, Mann–Whitney U tests and chi-square tests with Fischer’s exact tests. P-values < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.
Questionnaires from 443 (36.0%) respondents (294 men, 149 women, mean age 69.2 years) were analyzed. More men than women (p < 0.05) had paid employment (20.4% vs 9.4%), had someone who reminded them to wear their therapeutic shoes (27.6% vs 10.0%), and had a history of foot ulcers (62.9% vs 46.3%) or minor amputation (17.7% vs 6.7%). More women than men received disability pension (18.8% vs 10.2%). Women reported worse general health, lower internal locus of control regarding ulcer prevention, and more negative attitudes to the appearance and price of therapeutic shoes and how they felt about wearing them in public. Other comparisons were non-significant: other shoe attributes, education, diabetes type, current foot ulcers, major amputations, satisfaction with shoe services, understanding of neuropathy as a risk factor, locus of control regarding ulcer healing, belief in the shoes’ efficacy to prevent and heal ulcers, worries about ulcer healing and new ulcerations, self-efficacy, depression, shoe use/adherence, paying a fee for therapeutic shoes, and social support.
Men had worse foot complications. Women had worse general health, lower internal locus of control regarding ulcer prevention, and more negative attitudes toward therapeutic shoes. Clinicians should pay more attention to their female patients’ concerns. Future research and development should focus on improving the weight and appearance of therapeutic shoes, particularly for women. Research is also needed on how to facilitate the adaption and reevaluation process where patients change from viewing shoes purely as items of clothing to also viewing them as medical interventions.
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- Gender differences in attitudes and attributes of people using therapeutic shoes for diabetic foot complications
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