Objective: The study aimed to compare the relative effectiveness of providing a home-based exercise programme versus home-based exercise supplemented with an 8-week class-based exercise programme in reducing pain and improving function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Methods: Patients (n = 214) with radiologically confirmed knee osteoarthritis were selected. Patients were randomly allocated to either home or home supplemented with class-based exercise programmes. Both groups were given a home exercise programme whilst the supplemented group also attended for 8 weeks of twice weekly knee classes. Assessments of locomotor function, walking pain and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scores were made. Assessments were made pre- and post-treatment and also at 6- and 12-month follow-ups. Statistical analysis involved the use of a longitudinal linear model ANCOVA with baseline values entered as a covariate.
Results: Patients from the class-based group demonstrated significantly greater improvement in locomotor function (-3.7 seconds; 95% C.I. -4.9 to -2.5) and decrease in walking pain (-15 mm; 95% C.I. -20 to -11) than the home-based group, at 12-months follow-up.
Conclusions: The supplementation of a home based exercise programme with a class-based exercise programme led to clinically significant superior improvement. These improvements were still evident at 12-month review. This is the first trial to evaluate this common physiotherapeutic practice, and based on this evidence, supplementation of home exercises with a class-based exercise programme can be recommended to patients, clinicians and service providers.