Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a prevalent chronic disease and a leading cause of disability in adults. For people with knee and hip OA, symptoms (e.g., pain and fatigue) can interfere with mobility and physical activity. Whereas symptom management is a cornerstone of treatment for knee and hip OA, limited evidence exists for behavioral interventions delivered by rehabilitation professionals within the context of clinical care that address how symptoms affect participation in daily activities. Activity pacing, a strategy in which people learn to preplan rest breaks to avoid symptom exacerbations, has been effective as part of multi-component interventions, but hasn't been tested as a stand-alone intervention in OA or as a tailored treatment using accelerometers. In a pilot study, we found that participants who underwent a tailored activity pacing intervention had reduced fatigue interference with daily activities. We are now conducting a full-scale trial.
Methods/design: This paper provides a description of our methods and rationale for a trial that evaluates a tailored activity pacing intervention led by occupational therapists for adults with knee and hip OA. The intervention uses a wrist accelerometer worn during the baseline home monitoring period to glean recent symptom and physical activity patterns and to tailor activity pacing instruction based on how symptoms relate to physical activity. At 10 weeks and 6 months post baseline, we will examine the effectiveness of a tailored activity pacing intervention on fatigue, pain, and physical function compared to general activity pacing and usual care groups. We will also evaluate the effect of tailored activity pacing on physical activity (PA).
Discussion: Managing OA symptoms during daily life activity performance can be challenging to people with knee and hip OA, yet few clinical interventions address this issue. The activity pacing intervention tested in this trial is designed to help people modulate their activity levels and reduce symptom flares caused by too much or too little activity. As a result of this trial, we will be able to determine if activity pacing is more effective than usual care, and among the intervention groups, if an individually tailored approach improves fatigue and pain more than a general activity pacing approach.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01192516.