Foot self-care experiences among patients with diabetes: A systematic review of qualitative studies

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6 Scopus citations


Research that explores foot self-care practices and clinical foot care recommendations for persons with diabetes mellitus is limited. PURPOSE: The aim of this systematic review was to understand the gaps between the American Diabetes Association clinical recommendations on preventive foot self-care and perceptions of and actions taken by patients with diabetes and diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs). METHODS: PubMed, the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane Online Library, Psychological Information Database, and Google Scholar were systematically searched for qualitative research literature published in English from January 1, 2001, to October 21, 2016, using the MeSH terms diabetes mellitus, diabetic foot ulcers, foot care, experiences, and perception to examine the experiences of patients with diabetes regarding foot selfcare practices. Publications were screened for inclusion according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, and The Standard for Reporting Qualitative Research was used to appraise trustworthiness and publication bias. Publication details (author, year, title, country in which the study was conducted, and the type of publication), study aims, design (study methodology, method of sampling, and analysis method), and participant details were abstracted to Excel sheets for analysis of foot self-care experiences and to determine common themes (foot self-care issues) among patients with diabetes. RESULTS: Of the 14 publications identified, 9 (that included 113 patients with diabetes [95 with or history of DFUs and 18 with no DFUs] and 28 health care professionals [14 podiatrists, 8 physicians, and 6 registered nurses]) met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Research included 4 qualitative descriptive design studies, 2 descriptive phenomenology studies, 1 grounded theory study, 1 interpretive phenomenology study, and 1 exploratory qualitative design study. Four (4) studies were found to lack transparency, and 7 studies did not address trustworthiness. The common themes identified were the high clinical and lifestyle burden of DFUs, poor foot self-care knowledge, perception barriers and resistance, adoption of self-management practices, and discordance between patient and provider impressions and expectations. CONCLUSION: Several barriers to optimal foot care in persons with diabetes with and without foot ulcers were identified and may be explained and addressed by considering the Health Belief Model. Clinical interventions should be individualized to identify and address patient-specific barriers to optimal foot self-care. Future clinical studies are needed to examine the outcomes of individualized interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalWound management & prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Diabetes
  • Foot
  • Qualitative research
  • Self-care
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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