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The incidence and prevention of foot problems among male Phase One British Army recruits at an Army Training Regiment


Introduction Studies have demonstrated that there is an excessive number of foot problems among personnel entering the military, which leads to disruption to training resulting in an increase in both costs and wastage. Days are lost in training due to foot problems, most commonly blisters, causing a loss of working/training days with a resultant low morale and a financial loss to the army.

Methods A cohort of Phase One British Army recruits completed a questionnaire in week 3 of training to identify previous and current foot problems and assess what education on the topic they received during their training. Also, 43 foot risk assessment tools were used by the medical staff to identify incidence, severity and working days lost. Questionnaires were completed by 31 instructors to gain data on prevention and management of foot problems. Focus groups were conducted among instructors to investigate their knowledge of prevention and management, and problems identified among recruits.

Results A lack of formal training on foot care exists among recruits and instructors. Blisters were reported to be the main foot problem, and army-issue boots were reported to be the main cause of problems. Sizing of boots was inconsistent, and manufacturers can vary in their sizings. There were no policies available, and only one lesson on foot care was given.

Conclusions Currently, no policies exist on foot care at the Army Training Regiment (ATR). Foot clinics were available daily, and blisters and foot problems were already present; therefore, foot education is required in the early stages of training. The field craft exercise resulted in half of the recruits reporting blisters. Poor foot hygiene remained a problem when recruits arrived at the ATR for their training. Foot care instruction included in the training would reduce days and hours lost in training.


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