There are considerable changes to the structure and function of the feet during infancy and early childhood. These changes typically reflect the plasticity of the feet but can cause concerns for parents, and lead to additional burden on health services. The aim of this study was to explore parent’s knowledge, practice and perceptions of foot health in infancy and early childhood.
A qualitative design was adopted and two researchers conducted semi-structured, one-to-one interviews with parents of children aged five years and under. Two researchers undertook data collection and a flexible, time-efficient approach was adopted. Interviews were conducted face-to-face, via telephone or via online telecommunication applications (Sturges & Hanrahan, 2004). All transcripts were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was used to explore the data. Coding and theme development were undertaken inductively and directed by the content and responses within the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Informed consent was obtained from all participants and ethical approval granted by the host institution(s) prior to undertaking the work.
Eighteen interviews were conducted. Ten parents had one child under the age of five-years and eight parents had more than one child within this age range. Seven themes were identified relating to: (1) what parents understand about foot health in childhood; (2) how parents use and share information about foot health; (3) activities for supporting good foot health and development; (4) footwear choices and beliefs; (5) the role of health professionals; (6) accessing and understanding information; (7) developing practices to support parents.
Discussion and Clinical Relevance
The findings from this study provide insight into how parents view foot health in early infancy and childhood. The study depicts how parents learn about their children’s feet, receive and access support for their concerns, and what parents believe to be important. The findings from this work highlight that parents want accurate, accessible foot health information and that health professionals have an important role in supporting parents with easily identifiable, trustworthy sources that convey consistent advice.