Background: Chronic knee pain is a major cause of disability in the elderly. Management guidelines recommend exercise and self-management interventions as effective treatments. The authors previously described a rehabilitation programme integrating exercise and self-management [Enabling Self-management and Coping with Arthritic knee Pain through Exercise (ESCAPE-knee pain)] that produced short-term improvements in pain and physical function, but sustaining these improvements is difficult. Moreover, the programme is untried in clinical environments, where it would ultimately be delivered.
Objectives: To establish the feasibility of ESCAPE-knee pain and compare its clinical effectiveness and costs with outpatient physiotherapy.
Design: Pragmatic, randomised controlled trial.
Setting: Outpatient physiotherapy department and community centre.
Participants: Sixty-four people with chronic knee pain.
Interventions: Outpatient physiotherapy compared with ESCAPE-knee pain.
Outcomes: The primary outcome was physical function assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index. Secondary outcomes included pain, objective functional performance, anxiety, depression, exercise-related health beliefs and healthcare utilisation. All outcomes were assessed at baseline and 12 months after completing the interventions (primary endpoint). ANCOVA investigated between-group differences.
Results: Both groups demonstrated similar improvements in clinical outcomes. Outpatient physiotherapy cost pound 130 per person and the healthcare utilisation costs of participants over 1 year were pound 583. The ESCAPE-knee pain programme cost pound 64 per person and the healthcare utilisation costs of participants over 1 year were pound 320.
Conclusions: ESCAPE-knee pain can be delivered as a community-based integrated rehabilitation programme for people with chronic knee pain. Both ESCAPE-knee pain and outpatient physiotherapy produced sustained physical and psychosocial benefits, but ESCAPE-knee pain cost less and was more cost-effective.