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01-12-2013 | Research | Uitgave 1/2013 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2013

Process evaluation of podiatric treatment of patients with forefoot pain

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2013
Babette C van der Zwaard, Wim JC Swagerman, Benedicte Vanwanseele, Kees J Gorter, Henriëtte E van der Horst, Petra JM Elders
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1757-1146-6-32) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contribution

BvdZ was responsible for data-collection and wrote the manuscript, together with PE. WS assisted during data-collection and created the tables and Additional file 1. HH commented on several drafts of the manuscript. WS, BV and KG commented on the first and last draft of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.



Foot pain is a common problem for people aged 50 and over and occurs more often in women than in men. About 60% of the foot problems are forefoot problems and slightly more than half of these patients seek medical help, mainly in the form of podiatric care. Podiatric treatment of forefoot problems is known to be heterogeneous. The aims of the present study are to describe the podiatric treatment of patients with forefoot pain and to evaluate the podiatric examination and treatment using an expert panel.


We invited twenty-five randomly selected subjects with forefoot problems who had received podiatric treatment in a pragmatic randomised clinical trial to participate in an analysis of their treatment by an expert panel. The panel retrospectively established the cause of the foot problem as well as the therapeutic goals and evaluated the treatment. These findings were compared to those reported by the treating podiatrist.


Two fundamentally different approaches were found in approach of podiatric examination; a functional approach (n =13) and a non-functional approach (n =12). In nine cases the expert panel agreed with the cause recorded by the podiatrist. In five other cases the expert panel concluded that the treatment of the podiatrist was not consistent with the cause of the problem recorded by the podiatrist. Of the 10 patients for whom the podiatrist had recorded to have given shoe advice, only two were able to recollect the proper advice. Three patients did not remember receiving advice at all.


In this study almost half of the podiatrists worked according to a non-functional approach where the other half (like the expert panel) chose a functional strategy that analyses the underlying problem. Fundamental differences in treatment plans and thus heterogeneous treatments could be a consequence.

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