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Effectiveness of an internet-delivered exercise and pain-coping skills training intervention for persons with chronic knee pain: a randomized trial [with consumer summary]
Bennell KL, Nelligan R, Dobson F, Rini C, Keefe F, Kasza J, French S, Bryant C, Dalwood A, Abbott JH, Hinman RS
Annals of Internal Medicine 2017 Apr 4;166(7):453-462
clinical trial
7/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

BACKGROUND: Effective, accessible biopsychosocial treatments are needed to manage chronic knee pain on a population level. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of internet-delivered, physiotherapist-prescribed home exercise and pain-coping skills training (PCST). DESIGN: Pragmatic parallel-group randomized, controlled trial. (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12614000243617). SETTING: Community (Australia). PATIENTS: 148 persons aged 50 years or older with chronic knee pain. INTERVENTION: The intervention was delivered via the Internet and included educational material, 7 videoconferencing (Skype (Microsoft)) sessions with a physiotherapist for home exercise, and a PCST program over 3 months. The control was Internet-based educational material. MEASUREMENTS: Primary outcomes were pain during walking (11-point numerical rating scale) and physical function (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index) at 3 months. Secondary outcomes were knee pain, quality of life, global change (overall, pain, and functional status), arthritis self-efficacy, coping, and pain catastrophizing. Outcomes were also measured at 9 months. RESULTS: Of participants enrolled, 139 (94%) completed primary outcome measures at 3 months and 133 (90%) completed secondary outcome measures at 9 months; multiple imputation was used for missing data. The intervention group reported significantly more improvement in pain (mean difference 1.6 units (95% CI 0.9 to 2.3 units)) and physical function (mean difference, 9.3 units (CI 5.9 to 12.7 units)) than the control group at 3 months, and improvements were sustained at 9 months (mean differences, 1.1 units (CI 0.4 to 1.8 units) and 7.0 units (CI 3.4 to 10.5 units), respectively). Intervention participants showed significantly more improvement in most secondary outcomes than control participants. At both time points, significantly more intervention participants reported global improvements. Limitation: Participants were unblinded. CONCLUSION: For persons with chronic knee pain, Internet-delivered, physiotherapist-prescribed exercise and PCST provide clinically meaningful improvements in pain and function that are sustained for at least 6 months. PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: National Health and Medical Research Council.

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