Point prevalence of suboptimal footwear features among ambulant older hospital patients: Implications for fall prevention

Satyan R. Chari, Prue McRae, Matthew J. Stewart, Joan Webster, Mary Fenn, Terry P. Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objective. The aim of the present study was to establish the point prevalence of 'suboptimal' features in footwear reported to have been used by older hospital patients when ambulating, and to explore underpinning factors for their choice of footwear. Method. Across-sectional investigation was undertaken on 95 of 149 eligible in-patients across 22 high fall-risk wards in a large metropolitan hospital in Brisbane, Australia. Results. Over70%of participants experienced an unplanned admission. Although most participants had access to some form of footwear in hospital (92%), nearly all reported ambulating in footwear with 'suboptimal' features (99%). Examples included slippers (27%), backless slippers (16%) or bare feet (27%). For patients who ambulated in bare feet, only one-third reported 'lack of access to footwear' as the primary cause, with others citing foot wounds, pain,oedema and personal choice as the main reason for bare foot ambulation. Conclusions. Admitted patients frequently use footwear with 'suboptimal' features for ambulation in hospital. While some footwear options (for example well-fitting slippers) could be suited for limited in-hospital ambulation, others are clearly hazardous and might cause falls. Since footwear choices are influenced by multiple factors in this population, footwear education strategies alone may be insufficient to address the problem of hazardous footwear in at-risk patients. Footwear requirements may be more effectively addressed within a multidisciplinary team approach encompassing foot health, mobility and safety.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberAH14168
Pages (from-to)399-404
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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