Education for secondary prevention of foot ulcers in people with diabetes: a randomised controlled trial

Lincoln, N. B., Radford, Kathryn, Game, F. L. and Jeffcoate, W. J. (2008) Education for secondary prevention of foot ulcers in people with diabetes: a randomised controlled trial. Diabetologia, 51 (11). pp. 1954-1961. ISSN 0012-186X

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This observer-blind, randomised controlled trial was designed to determine the effect of a foot care education programme in the secondary prevention of foot ulcers.

People with newly healed foot ulcers attending one of three specialist clinics were allocated to receive either targeted, one-to-one education or usual care, using a computer-generated random allocation sequence that had been prepared in advance but which was concealed from the clinical researcher. The primary outcome was ulcer incidence at 12 months. Secondary outcomes were ulcer incidence at 6 months and incidence of amputation, mood (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and quality of life (Diabetic Foot Ulcer Scale) at 6 and 12 months. Protective foot care behaviours (Nottingham Assessment of Functional Footcare) were assessed at 12 months.

There were 87 (mean [SD] age 63.5 [12.1] years) patients in the intervention group and 85 control patients (mean [SD] age 64.9 [10.9] years). The groups were comparable at baseline. No significant differences (p > 0.05) were observed between groups in ulcer incidence at either 6 months (intervention 30%, control 21%) or 12 months (intervention 41%, control 41%). Recommended foot care behaviours at 12 months were better in the intervention than in the control group (p = 0.03), but education had no significant (p > 0.05) effect on mood, quality of life or amputations.

Even though the intervention was associated with improved foot care behaviour, there was no evidence that this programme of targeted education was associated with clinical benefit in this population when compared with usual care. The usefulness and optimal delivery of education to such a high-risk group requires further evaluation.

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