Clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness evidence of spa therapy in osteoarthritis. The results of "Naiade" Italian Project

Panminerva Med. 2003 Sep;45(3):211-7.


Aim: The "Naiade" Project was carried out in execution of the Decree of December 1994 by the Italian Ministry of Health, with the objective of defining the therapeutic role of spa therapy in the various sectors of medicine. In this study the authors refer to the results obtained in osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods: The OA study included the observation of patients for 2 consecutive years, with the compilation of a series of clinical and socio-economic data. The initial sample was of 11437 patients suffering from primary and secondary OA, and in the 2(nd) year the total number of assessable patients was 6111 (53.4%). All patients underwent 1 annual cycle of balneotherapy and mud packs therapy for 2 consecutive years. The thermal treatments were carried out in 98 Italian spas with sulphurous water, sodium chloride-bromide-iodide water, sulphate water, and bicarbonate water. Analysis of the data collected confirmed the clinical efficacy of spa treatments for OA, particularly for localisations in the cervical and lumbar spine. The benefits of these treatments and the persistence of the therapeutic effects over time were clearly demonstrated by the collection of some socio-economic indicators relative to the year before each cycle of thermal therapy.

Results: In fact, the analysis of these indicators showed a significant reduction in recourse to additional treatments (hospital admissions, physical and pharmacological therapies) and absence from work.

Conclusion: The obtained data was particularly interesting for the number of samples examined, the follow-up over a period of 2 years, and the collection of clinical and, especially, socio-economic parameters. The results of the Naiade Project confirmed the value of spa therapies in the treatment of OA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Balneology* / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mineral Waters / economics
  • Mud Therapy
  • Osteoarthritis / economics
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Mineral Waters