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Self-reported adherence to foot care in type 2 diabetes patients: do illness representations and distress matter?

  • M. Graça Pereira (a1), Susana Pedras (a1) and Gabriela Ferreira (a1)



This study examined the differences and the predictive role of clinical variables, illness representations, anxiety, and depression symptoms, on self-reported foot care adherence, in patients recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and assessed no longer than a year after the diagnosis (T1) and four months later (T2).


The high rate of diabetes worldwide is one of the major public health challenges. Foot care is the behavior least performed by patients although regular foot care could prevent complications such as diabetic foot and amputation. Psychosocial processes such as illness representations and distress symptoms may contribute to explain adherence to foot self-care behaviors.


This is a longitudinal study with two assessment moments. The sample included 271 patients, who answered the Revised Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities, Brief-Illness Perception Questionnaire, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.


Patients reported better foot care adherence at T2. Having a higher duration of T2DM and the perception of more consequences of diabetes were associated with better self-reported foot care adherence, at T1. At T2, the predictors were lower levels of HbA1c, better self-reported foot care adherence at T1, higher comprehension about T2DM, as well as fewer depressive symptoms. Interventions to promote adherence to foot care should have in consideration these variables. The results of the present study may help health professionals in designing interventions that early detect depressive symptoms and address illness beliefs, in order to promote foot self-care behaviors reducing the incidence of future complications.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits nrestricted re-se, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: M. Graça Pereira, School of Psychology, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal. E-mail:


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Cite this article: Pereira MG, Pedras S, Ferreira G. (2018) Self-reported adherence to foot care in type 2 diabetes patients: do illness representations and distress matter? Primary Health Care Research & page 1 of 8. doi: 10.1017/S1463423618000531



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