‘Why should I worry, since I have healthy feet?’ A qualitative study exploring barriers to use of footwear among rural community members in northern Ethiopia

Kelemework, Abebe, Tora, Abebayehu, Amberbir, Tsigie, Agedew, Getnet, Asmamaw, Abiyu, Deribe, Kebede and Davey, Gail (2016) ‘Why should I worry, since I have healthy feet?’ A qualitative study exploring barriers to use of footwear among rural community members in northern Ethiopia. BMJ Open, 6 (3). e010354. ISSN 2044-6055

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To explore the influence of personal, cultural and socioeconomic factors related to footwear use and non-use in northern Ethiopia.

A qualitative study was conducted using focus group discussions and in-depth individual interviews. Data were collected using semistructured interview guides.

The study was conducted in East and West Gojjam Zones, Amhara region, northwest Ethiopia.

A total of 91 individuals from 4 target groups participated in individual and group interviews: (1) non-affected community leaders including Idir (a form of social insurance) leaders, school principals, kebele (the lowest administrative unit) officials, health professionals, teachers, merchants and religious leaders; (2) affected men and women; (3) non-affected men and women not in leadership positions; and (4) school children (both male and female).

Participants perceived a range of health benefits from donning footwear, including protection against injury and cold. Various types of shoes are available within the community, and their use varied depending on the nature of activities and the season. Personal and socioeconomic barriers hindered the desire to consistently use footwear. Widely established barefoot traditions and beliefs that footwear is uncomfortable, heavy and may weaken the feet have made the regular use of footwear uncommon. Economic constraints were also mentioned as hindering ownership and use of footwear. Distance from places where shoes could be bought also contributed to limited access. Cultural influences promoting gender inequality resulted in women being least able to access shoes.

We identified several individual, cultural and socioeconomic barriers that influence individuals’ decisions about and use of footwear in rural northern Ethiopia. Promoting education on the health benefits of footwear, curbing podoconiosis-related misconceptions and integrating these with economic empowerment programmes, may all improve the use of footwear.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Global Health and Infection
Subjects: R Medicine
Depositing User: Nikoleta Kiapidou
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2016 10:49
Last Modified: 24 May 2021 09:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60561

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Gene-environment studies in podoconiosisG0033WELLCOME TRUST091956/Z/10/Z
Epidemiological mapping of podoconiosis in EthiopiaG1183WELLCOME TRUST099876/Z/12/Z