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Keeping feet healthy with diabetes

Research Priority: Evaluating the implementation of assistive technology
Researchers: Rajna Ogrin, Tracy Aylen, Dinesh Kumar, Rekha Viswanathan, Janine Scott, Fiona Wallace
Research partners: RMIT, Carrington Health
Study population: Home and Community Support clients
Funding support: Eldon & Anne Foote Trust and Pam & Alfred Lavey Trust

Foot problems are one of the most common and costly complications associated with diabetes. They can become very serious, leading to amputations and even death. Therefore, education and encouraging regular screening and help-seeking are key to prevention.

Given the rise in smart phone use, this project aimed to develop and pilot two education apps designed to support (i) people with diabetes and (ii) generalist healthcare providers to help their clients optimise their foot health.

We co-designed the apps with biomedical engineers, researchers, healthcare providers and community members with diabetes. The apps were then piloted with 40 people with diabetes over 12 weeks and six Bolton Clarke nurses over two weeks.

Our nurses felt their knowledge and awareness increased after using the app and thought the app useful and worth pursuing. Further work is required to align any app with current electronic systems.

For people with diabetes, we found the app was worth pursuing. Participants would prefer the information be included in a holistic diabetes care app and feel the app would benefit people newly diagnosed with diabetes.

Further research is needed to better understand how to support people with diabetes to more accurately perceive their personal risk of serious foot complications and to improve self-care behaviours to prevent amputations.