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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Volume 41 Number 3B, May/June 2004
Pages 453 — 460


Health practices of veterans with unilateral lower-limb loss: Identifying correlates

Susan Robinson-Whelen, PhD; Carol Bodenheimer, MD

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research and Development Service, VA Medical Center, Houston, TX;
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Abstract — Persons with a nontraumatic lower-limb amputation are at high risk of losing their contralateral limb in the years postamputation. In this study, veterans with a unilateral lower-limb amputation participated in a survey about health beliefs and health practices known to affect risk of amputation (foot care and smoking). Most participants reported good foot-care practices (93% checked the top of their foot, 73% checked the bottom of their foot, 75% checked between their toes, and 72% washed their foot daily); however, a small percentage engaged in important foot-care practices less than once a week (2% checked the top of their foot, 7% checked the bottom of their foot, and 7% checked between their toes less than once a week). In addition, nearly a third still smoked. The belief in one's ability to engage in good foot care and the belief that good foot care reduces the risk of future foot problems were significantly correlated with foot-care practices. In addition, psychological well-being (life satisfaction) was significantly related to foot care and smoking status. Longitudinal research is needed to identify determinants of health behaviors to better direct intervention efforts.
Key words: amputees, foot-care practices, health behavior, health beliefs, psychological adjustment.

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