Introduction: To evaluate the efficacy of a self-management support program including a 6 week self-management course, individualised phone support and goal setting in osteoarthritis patients on a waiting list for arthroplasty surgery.
Method: Randomised controlled trial of 152 public hospital outpatients awaiting hip or knee replacement surgery who were not classified as requiring urgent surgery. Participants were randomised to a self-management program or to usual care. The primary outcome was change in the Health Education Intervention Questionnaire (HeiQ) from randomisation to 6 month follow-up. Quality of life and depressive symptoms were also measured. Changes in pain and function were assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Arthritis Index.
Results: At 6 month follow-up, health-directed behaviour was significantly greater in the intervention [mean 4.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.99-4.58] than the control (mean 3.81, 95% CI 3.52-4.09; P=0.017). There was also a significant effect on skill and technique acquisition for the intervention (mean 4.37, 95% CI 4.19-4.55) in comparison to control (mean 4.11, 95% CI 3.93-4.29; P=0.036). There was no significant effect of the intervention on the remaining HeiQ subscales, WOMAC pain or disability, quality of life or depressive symptoms.
Discussion: The arthritis self-management program improved health-directed behaviours, skill acquisition and stiffness in patients on a joint replacement waiting list, although the observed effects were of modest size (Cohen's d between 0.36 and 0.42). There was no significant effect on pain, function or quality of life in the short term. Self-management programs can assist in maintaining health behaviours (particularly walking) in this patient group. Further research is needed to assess their impact on quality of life and over longer periods.