Just as a good clinical examination asks directed queries about comorbidities and health to a patient to obtain an integrated understanding of the patient’s needs, so does a good research study add to our clinical insights. This session will use examples from the population-based Framingham Foot Study to highlight important key aspects of public health that may be overlooked yet essential perspectives as we consider the role that feet play in health and disease. Specific examples of current research evaluating the role of obesity will be presented. Important findings from the Foot Study will be discussed in relation to race/ethnicity, arthritis of the knee or hip, limitations in mobility, and disability. The need for early clinical intervention will be discussed as well as the evaluation of progression of foot conditions in persons prior to any clinical intervention. Finally, we will address what might be modifiable and what is not apt to change with clinical interventions.
Research findings may provide understanding of underlying mechanisms for the diseases we see in our patients. Epidemiology, as a specific focus, tells us the public health impact… and the impact of foot disorders is huge: in the general population, the risk of disability due to foot problems is much larger than heart problems, dementia or lung disorders. And despite public demand for understanding of foot health, many clinicians and public health advocates ignore the role of the foot.
Podiatry can merge with population sciences to encourage the integration of our knowledge so that key aspects of health are not overlooked. Our insights and public health knowledge are the keys to making a significant difference in foot health and advancing preventive efforts.