To assess the effect of a group education programme on pain and function through knowledge acquisition and a home-based exercise programme.
A parallel randomised single-blind clinical trial.
Fifty patients aged 65 years or over with knee osteoarthritis.
The study group (n=25) was given a group education programme once a week for 4 weeks, followed by a self-executed home-based exercise programme. The controls (n=25) were given a brief course in short-wave diathermy treatment.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Patients were assessed before the intervention, after the intervention (4 weeks) and again 8 weeks later (follow-up) using the Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), the repeated sit-to-stand test and the get-up-and-go test.
At 4 weeks, there was a significant improvement in both groups in all outcome variables except the WOMAC stiffness score; for example, the WOMAC total score was reduced by a mean of 9.5 points [95% confidence interval (CI) -12.3 to -6.7]. However, at follow-up, patients in the study group demonstrated continued improvement in the get-up-and-go test and the WOMAC total, pain and disability scores, but no such improvement was noted among the controls. This difference was significant; for example, the difference in mean WOMAC total score between the groups was -9.0 points (95%CI -14.5 to -3.4).
A simple group education programme for patients with knee osteoarthritis is associated with improved functional abilities and pain reduction. Further study is required to determine if this positive effect can be maintained over a longer period.