Condition category
Circulatory System
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Prospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Podoconiosis is one of the forgotten types of leg swelling (elephantiasis) in the tropics. Although an estimated 4 million people are affected by podoconiosis across Africa, there is no government health service provision for patients in countries where it is found. In Ethiopia, where 1 million people with podoconiosis live, non-government organizations (NGOs) have developed simple treatments using low-cost, locally available materials. Treatment includes foot hygiene, skin care, bandaging, exercises to improve lymph drainage and use of socks and shoes. Although the NGOs consider the treatment to be effective, no study has been done to prove that it is. Our main aim is to test whether the 'standard' treatment reduces the number of times a patient experiences 'acute episodes', when the leg become hot, painful and more swollen than usual. These episodes significantly interfere with patients' ability to work or carry out normal day-to-day tasks. We will also measure the cost of the treatment and gather information on the economic effects of untreated disease (for example, loss of earnings due to inability to work).

Who can participate?
Men and women who have podoconiosis and are at least 16 years old and who will remain living in the study area for the length of the study.

What does the study involve?
Before the study, a survey will be done to collect background information on typical work hours and settings, labour and medical costs and productivity losses related to podoconiosis. We will also do a rapid assessment to identify the best methods of giving information about the study and the approaches to obtaining informed consent preferred by the community. We will allocate 690 podoconiosis patients to one of two groups: either to 'standard' treatment, or to delayed treatment (i.e., 345 patients in each group). Standard treatment will consist of soaking the feet in dilute antiseptic and washing them with soap and water. Moisturising lotion will then be applied to the skin and the feet and lower legs will be bandaged. This will be done every day for one year and patients will attend meetings to learn how to do it. Treatment will be organised through the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Podoconiosis Project, which already has excellent links with the community and local government. The delayed treatment group will receive no treatment for one year, but will receive treatment at the end of the study. The number of acute episodes will be compared between the two groups.

What are the possible benefits and risks of taking part?
Patients allocated to the treatment group will benefit from the treatment they receive for their podoconiosis. Patients allocated to the control arm (delayed treatment) will receive treatment after the study has been completed. Although this means a delay in receiving treatment, only about 3% of patients can access treatment in Ethiopia so most people with podoconiosis receive no treatment at the moment. Possible risks include adverse effects from inexperienced bandaging: this will be mitigated by careful training of project assistants.

Where is the study run from?
The study will be based at the IOCC Debre Markos Podoconiosis Project in East Gojjam Zone, Amhara Region, northern Ethiopia, where podoconiosis is very common. Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the Clinical Trial Facility at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kilifi, Kenya will provide support for the study.

When is the study starting and how long will it run for?
The study will start recruiting from October until December 2013 and the intervention be applied from January 2014 for 1 year.

Who is funding the study?
The study is funded by Medical Research Council (MRC)/UK Department for International Development (DfID)/Wellcome Trust.

Who is the main contact?
Dr Gail Davey,
Professor Melanie Newport,

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Gail Davey


Contact details

Brighton & Sussex Medical School
BSMS Teaching Building Rm 2.16
University of Sussex
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1273 872528

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Randomised controlled trial of podoconiosis treatment in northern Ethiopia



Study hypothesis

Golbet means 'be strong' in Amharic.

Standard community-based treatment of podoconiosis lymphoedema improves individual clinical, social and economic outcomes for people with podoconiosis.

Null hypothesis: is that there will be no difference in outcome between standard and delayed treatment groups.

Ethics approval

1. Research Governance and Ethics Committee of Brighton & Sussex Medical School, 12/08/2014, approval number 13/107/DAV
2. College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa University, 12/12/2013, protocol number 071/13/SPH
3. Ethiopian Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority, 09/04/2014, 02/6-1/05/39
4. National Research Ethics Review Committee of the Ministries of Health and Science and Technology of Ethiopia, 11/07/2014, approval number 3-1/794/06

Study design

Pragmatic single-blind randomized controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting

GP practices

Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Podoconiosis (non-filarial elephantiasis)


Standard podoconiosis lymphoedema management in the community with delayed treatment (as control).

Standard podoconiosis lymphoedema management consisting of twice-weekly group meetings with instruction and practical demonstration of foot hygiene by a community project assistant. Foot hygiene comprises: soaking feet in dilute antiseptic, washing with soap, rinsing with clean water, drying and application of emollient; supervised use of normal or short-stretch bandages for disease stage ≥3; foot elevation and exercises; instruction to practice foot hygiene daily at home; instruction to elevate the foot of the bed or areas slept on; instruction to acquire socks and shoes where possible.

Intervention type



Not Applicable

Drug names

Primary outcome measures

Incidence of acute dermatolymphangioadenitis (ADLA). Mean number of ADLA episodes over 12 months.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Adherence with treatment (foot washing, use of ointment, use of bandages, elevation, exercises, use of socks and shoes)
2. Clinical stage of disease (using scale specifically developed for use in podoconiosis patients)
3. Lower leg and foot circumferences (measured in cm at mid-calf and mid-foot)
4. Presence of mossy changes, wounds and inter-digital entry lesions
5. Duration of ADLA (days)
6. Quality of life (using validated Amharic translation of Dermatology Life Quality Index)
7. Perceived stigma (using recently developed scale for measuring stigma among podoconiosis patients)
8. Economic productivity (days/part-days off work)

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Patients (male and female) must be at least 16 years old
2. Have a diagnosis of podoconiosis confirmed by the trial team
3. Not be planning to move away from the area during the study period

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Lymphoedema of causes other than podoconiosis
2. History of allergic reaction to treatment materials
3. Mental health disorder affecting ability to adhere to treatment
4. Physical disability beyond that of podoconiosis precluding attendance at group sessions

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment


Trial participating centre

Brighton & Sussex Medical School
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Sussex (UK)

Sponsor details

Sussex House
Southern Ring Road
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type

Research council

Funder name

UK Department for International Development (DFID) (UK)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Funder name

Medical Research Council (MRC) (UK)

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype

other non-profit


United Kingdom

Funder name

Wellcome Trust (UK) - scheme to fund global health clinical trials (MR/K007211/1)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

2015 protocol in:

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes