Aims: The aims of this study were to develop recommendations for occupational therapy assessment and design of hand exercise programmes in patients with hand osteoarthritis.
Methods: An expert group followed a Delphi procedure to reach consensus for up to 10 recommendations for assessment and exercises, respectively. Thereafter, an evidence-based approach was used to identify and appraise research evidence supporting each recommendation, before the recommendations were validated by the expert group.
Results: The process resulted in 10 recommendations for assessment and eight for design of exercise programmes. The literature search revealed that there is a paucity of clinical trials to guide recommendations for hand osteoarthritis, and the evidence for the majority of the recommendations was based on expert opinions. Also, even if a systematic review demonstrates some evidence for the efficacy of strength training exercises in hand OA, the evidence for any specific exercise is limited to expert opinions.
Conclusions: A first set of recommendations for assessment and exercise in hand osteoarthritis has been developed. For many of the recommendations there is a paucity of research evidence. High-quality studies are therefore needed to establish a high level of evidence concerning functional assessment and the effect of hand exercises in hand osteoarthritis.