Diabetes mellitus is a common and increasingly important chronic disease worldwide. In Oman, the setting of this thesis, the prevalence of diabetes was 12.3% in 2008. Diabetes causes substantial morbidity and mortality, with diabetic foot disease (DFD) being one of the most serious and costly complications of diabetes. Good preventive foot care measures, patient and provider education and adherence to proper foot self-care practices can reduce the risk of developing DFD by up to 85.0%. No published study has investigated diabetic foot care in Oman.
The aim of this study was to explore the quality of diabetic foot care provided by primary and secondary health care professionals in an area of Muscat, Oman. The specific objectives were: 1) To ascertain the level of foot self-care amongst people with diabetes; 2) To determine the level of foot care education for people with diabetes provided by primary and secondary health care professionals; 3) To determine the level of professional foot care services provided to people with diabetes; and 4) To examine the association between foot self-care practices and known risk factors for diabetes-related foot disease (DRFD).
The study setting was eight primary health care clinics and one polyclinic in Alseeb, Muscat, Oman. A convenience sample of 350 Omani patients with diabetes (310 from primary health care and 40 from the polyclinic) were invited to participate in the study. A questionnaire developed from two pre-existing questionnaires and pre-tested and translated into Arabic, was administered by author of this thesis and research assistants. The questionnaire included six domains including demographic details, patient-reported DRFD, foot self-care, foot care education, and professional foot care. Data were checked, entered into Excel spreadsheet, and analysed using STATA Statistical Software version 12.0 (2012). Proportions and means were calculated as appropriate for variables of interest. To examine the association between dependent and independent variables, a one-way analysis of variance was used for categorical variables and product-moment correlation test for continuous variables. Ethical approval was obtained from the Medical Research and Ethics Review Committee, Ministry of Health, Oman.
Of the 350 participants, 62.3% were female and more than half of the patients were illiterate (52.9%). DRFD was found to be common in this population with more than 55.0% of the study population reported having at least one or more sensory peripheral neuropathy symptoms, and almost half (49.1%) complained of one or more peripheral vascular disease symptoms in the last month. In spite of this, patients often did not adopt all recommended behavioural foot care practices. For example, 54.7% did not look at the bottoms of their feet daily, 58.4% reported using moisturising creams or lotions between their toes daily, and 46.0% reported wearing traditional Omani sandals which do not offer protection from injuries.
Fewer than half of the participants reported receiving advice or information on recommended foot care practices from their diabetes health care professionals.
Professional diabetes foot care services were suboptimal. For example, 20.4% of participants reported never being asked about numbness in their feet and 21.7% reported having been seen by a podiatrist during the previous year. In the final model, a statistically significant association was found between foot self-care scores and level of formal education, diabetes treatment and professional foot care.
Conclusions and recommendations
Despite the presence of DRFD in this Omani population with diabetes, the overall quality of diabetic foot care was suboptimal. From the patient perspective there is a need for high quality diabetic foot care education to improve patients’ foot care awareness and self-management. Patient education requires good communication skills and an understanding of patients’ education levels, and the influence of cultural, social and religious practices. A multidisciplinary team approach and ongoing foot care education for health care professionals is needed in order to improve their diabetic foot care knowledge and skills.
To better understand the context, barriers to regular recommended foot self-care practices needs to be explored further, and the reasons for non-adherence to the Omani diabetes foot care guidelines by health care professionals requires further clarification. Nevertheless, findings from this study will be useful for health care planners and policy makers in Oman and neighbouring countries with similar health systems for improving the overall quality of diabetes foot care.||