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Where do you stand?: an exploration of perspectives toward feet, foot health, and footwear using innovative digital methods

Skidmore, Sue; Prior, Yeliz; Nester, Christopher; Bird, Sam; Vasilica, Cristina

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Sue Skidmore

Yeliz Prior

Sam Bird

Cristina Vasilica


BACKGROUND: The cost of losing foot health is significant to the person, healthcare systems, and economy, with diabetes related foot health issues alone costing over £1 billion annually in the UK. Yet many foot health problems are preventable through alternative health behaviour. It is therefore important to understand how feet, foot health and footwear are conceptualised to gain understanding about how these might influence foot health behaviour and inform health messages that seek to protect or improve foot health through altered health behaviour. This research seeks to explore attitudes and beliefs and identify phenomena that may act as barriers or motivators to the proactive self-management of foot health. METHODS: Public conversations involving 2,699 expressions related to feet, footwear or foot health on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were extracted. Conversations on Facebook and Twitter were scraped with NVivo's NCapture plugin whereby data is extracted and downloaded to NVivo. Extracted files were uploaded to the Big Content Machine (software developed at the University of Salford) which facilitated the search for keywords 'foot', 'feet', 'footwear', 'shoe', and 'shoes'. Instagram was scraped by hand. Data was analysed using a Thematic Analysis approach. RESULTS: Three themes were identified; 1) connections and disconnections derived from social and cultural constructs, 2) phenomena beyond attitudes and beliefs that relate to symbolic representations and the impact when foot health is lost, and 3) phenomena relating to Social Media as a conduit for the exploration of attitudes and beliefs. CONCLUSIONS: This novel research exemplifies complex and sometimes incongruous perspectives about feet including their value for what they facilitate, contrasted with negative feelings about the negative impact that can have aesthetically when feet work hard. Sometimes feet were devalued, with expressions of disgust, disconnection, and ridicule. The importance of contextual, social, and cultural phenomena with implications for optimising foot health messages. Knowledge gaps including factors related to children's foot health and development, and how to treat foot health problems. The power of communities with shared experience to influence decisions, theories, and behaviour about foot health was also revealed. While people do talk about feet in some social contexts, it is not always in a way that promotes overt, positive foot health behaviour. Finally, this research demonstrates the benefit of exploring perspectives in uncontrived settings and illuminates the potential utility of social media (SoMe) platforms Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as vehicles to promote foot health self-management behaviour that is responsive to the social and demographic variances of engagers who inhabit those spaces.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 10, 2023
Online Publication Date Apr 28, 2023
Publication Date 2023-02
Publicly Available Date May 30, 2023
Journal Journal of Foot and Ankle Research
Electronic ISSN 1757-1146
Publisher Springer Verlag
Volume 16
Issue 1
Article Number 25
Keywords Attitudes, Beliefs, Feet, Foot health, Prevention, Child, Humans, Health Behavior, Lower Extremity
Publisher URL


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