What influences adult preferences when selecting medical treatment? A pilot study

Ms Laura Hutchison1, Dr Malia Ho2, Ms Gabriela Griggs1, Ms Kathleen Bailey1, Mr Jeremy Lippiatt1, Dr Kerwin Talbot1

1Central Queensland University, Sydney, Australia, 2Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia

Background: Patient preference is a key factor that can influence treatment effectiveness, as it can impact adherence. In order to investigate as many patient influencers as possible, onychomycosis (fungal nail infection) was the pathology of interest in this study, because it is very common, and has many treatments options available. This study aimed to determine influencers of adult preferences when selecting medical treatments. Additionally, as some onychomycosis treatments are available without prescription or health professional consultation, a secondary aim was to ascertain preferred methods of obtaining foot care information.

Method: An online survey was targeted towards participants who currently or previously had toenail onychomycosis and disseminated via various social media platforms. The survey collected data regarding demographics, treatment options used, and treatment influencers. As the study was preliminary, descriptive statistics were used to analyse data.

Results: Forty five respondents completed the survey. Thirty one percent of respondents ranked ‘treatment effectiveness’ as the most important influencer of treatment preference, followed by ‘health professional recommendation’ and ‘affordability’ (18% respectively). Sixty seven percent of respondents preferred to access foot care information from a health professional, whilst thirty three percent preferred to obtain this from the internet.

Discussion: This study displayed that regardless of socio-demographic factors, treatment effectiveness was the most important influencer, followed equally by health professional recommendation and affordability. Potential factors that may influence patient preference which could be used by health professionals to improve practice are highlighted. The need to clarify patient preference is emphasised as it may help improve treatment outcomes. Additionally, given 33% of respondents preferred to obtain foot care information from the internet, it is important that robust health promotion strategies are utilised by allied health professions, in particular, specific to foot care information. Future research into key influencers of patient preference is imperative to improve treatment outcomes.


Laura Hutchison is a Lecturer in Podiatry at Central Queensland University (Sydney campus). She has experience in academic roles and as a clinician in both private and public settings. Laura’s teaching currently involves conducting both theoretical and practical components of various podiatry units and clinical supervision. In addition to her academic role, Laura continues to practice privately. Laura is interested in health promotion and patient-focused care. She is also passionate about patient engagement, which was recently recognised at the 2018 Central Queensland University awards ceremony, where herself and colleagues were presented with two prestigious Opal awards for excellence in engagement. Laura is currently completing her PhD at The University of Sydney where she is investigating the effects of gait retraining (changing the normal walking pattern) for medial knee osteoarthritis.

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