Background The increased prevalence of foot and ankle pathologies in Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) is well documented1, however the provision of foot & ankle (F&A) healthcare services for people with RMDs in Europe has not been evaluated.
Objectives To assess the current healthcare systems for providing foot & ankle healthcare services for people with RMDs in Europe.
Methods A survey was undertaken to evaluate current provision of F&A health care services for people with RMDs across Europe. A questionnaire was distributed to all 22 country presidents representing HP associations within EULAR. The questionnaire used was developed and piloted (in 7 countries) by the EULAR F&A Study Group, and structured to capture the provision and type of F&A services for people with RMDs. When the HP presidents felt unable to answer specific questions they were encouraged to consult a colleague who may be better placed to provide the answers.
Results Sixteen questionnaires were completed (Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Hungary, Netherlands, UK, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium, Malta). Of the 16, 13 respondents indicated provision of F&A health care services in their country, but only three countries had services specialising in RMD-related F&A problems (Netherlands, UK, Malta). The professions providing the care for patients with RMD-related F&A problems were different depending on the pathology and the country (Table1). Podiatrists provided care for F&A pain and deformity problems in 11 countries, but provided F&A ulcer care in only 8 countries.
Conclusions Only 3 countries have F&A health care services specialised to the needs of people with RMDs. The professions providing the care varied between countries, and also depended on the F&A pathology. Interestingly, F&A healthcare services were provided by professions that do not solely specialised in F&A care. Further research is needed to assess the variation of F&A healthcare services between and within European countries and the impact on healthcare of various F&A healthcare service designs.
Woodburn, J. & Helliwell, P. Foot problems in rheumatology. Rheumatology 36, 932–934 (1997).
Disclosure of Interest None declared