Foot pain and foot health in an educated population of adults: results from the Glasgow Caledonian University Alumni Foot Health Survey

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Background: Foot pain is common amongst the general population and impacts negatively on physical function and quality of life. Associations between personal health characteristics, lifestyle/behaviour factors and foot pain have been studied; however, the role of wider determinants of health on foot pain have received relatively little attention. Objectives of this study are i) to describe foot pain and foot health characteristics in an educated population of adults; ii) to explore associations between moderate-to-severe foot pain and a variety of factors including gender, age, medical conditions/co-morbidity/multi-morbidity, key indicators of general health, foot pathologies, and social determinants of health; and iii) to evaluate associations between moderate-to-severe foot pain and foot function, foot health and health-related quality-of-life. Methods: Between February and March 2018, Glasgow Caledonian University Alumni with a working email address were invited to participate in the cross-sectional electronic survey (anonymously) by email via the Glasgow Caledonian University Alumni Office. The survey was constructed using the REDCap secure web online survey application and sought information on presence/absence of moderate-to-severe foot pain, patient characteristics (age, body mass index, socioeconomic status, occupation class, comorbidities, and foot pathologies). Prevalence data were expressed as absolute frequencies and percentages. Multivariate logistic and linear regressions were undertaken to identify associations 1) between independent variables and moderate-to-severe foot pain, and 2) between moderate-to-severe foot pain and foot function, foot health and health-related quality of life. Results: Of 50,228 invitations distributed, there were 7707 unique views and 593 valid completions (median age [inter-quartile range] 42 [31–52], 67.3% female) of the survey (7.7% response rate). The sample was comprised predominantly of white Scottish/British (89.4%) working age adults (95%), the majority of whom were overweight or obese (57.9%), and in either full-time or part-time employment (82.5%) as professionals (72.5%). Over two-thirds (68. 5%) of the sample were classified in the highest 6 deciles (most affluent) of social deprivation. Moderate-to-severe foot pain affected 236/593 respondents (39.8%). High body mass index, presence of bunions, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, hip pain and lower occupation class were included in the final multivariate model and all were significantly and independently associated with moderate-to-severe foot pain (p < 0.05), except for rheumatoid arthritis (p = 0.057). Moderate-to-severe foot pain was significantly and independently associated lower foot function, foot health and health-related quality of life scores following adjustment for age, gender and body mass index (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Moderate-to-severe foot pain was highly prevalent in a university-educated population and was independently associated with female gender, high body mass index, bunions, back pain, hip pain and lower occupational class. Presence of moderate-to-severe foot pain was associated with worse scores for foot function, foot health and health-related quality-of-life. Education attainment does not appear to be protective against moderate-to severe foot pain.
Original languageEnglish
Article number48
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Foot and Ankle Research
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2018



  • foot pain
  • survey
  • foot health
  • epidemiology

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