"Beating osteoARThritis": development of a stepped care strategy to optimize utilization and timing of non-surgical treatment modalities for patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis

Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Dec;30(12):1623-9. doi: 10.1007/s10067-011-1835-x. Epub 2011 Sep 2.


Inadequacies in health care practices have been reported despite existing guidelines to manage hip or knee osteoarthritis. To facilitate guideline implementation and improve utilization of non-surgical treatment options a care strategy should be developed. This study describes the development of an evidence-based, multidisciplinary, patient-centered, stepped care strategy. A national, multidisciplinary, steering group developed the strategy in three phases: (1) consensus among steering group members (first draft); (2) written consultation of 23 representatives of patient organizations and professional associations involved in osteoarthritis care (second draft); (3) consensus of the final draft after discussion in two rounds during a conference with representatives from the different disciplines. The final stepped care strategy presents, in three tiers, the optimal order for non-surgical treatment modalities. It recommends that more advanced options should only be considered if options listed in previous steps failed to produce satisfactory results. Hence, the first step treatment options can be offered to all patients but may also be provided through self care (education, life style advice, and acetaminophen). The second step (exercise therapy, dietary therapy, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and third step treatment options (multidisciplinary care, intra-articular injections, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) can be considered for people with persisting complaints. Trough a consensus procedure, we succeeded to develop a multidisciplinary, patient-centered, stepped care strategy based on national guidelines. This strategy provides a framework for health care providers and patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis to discuss the optimal timing of the various treatment options.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Protocols / standards*
  • Consensus
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Netherlands
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Self Care
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal