Objective: Chronic joint pain is a major cause of pain and disability. Exercise and self-management have short-term benefits, but few studies follow participants for more than 6 months. We investigated the long-term (up to 30 months) clinical and cost effectiveness of a rehabilitation program combining self-management and exercise: Enabling Self-Management and Coping of Arthritic Knee Pain Through Exercise (ESCAPE-knee pain).
Methods: In this pragmatic, cluster randomized, controlled trial, 418 people with chronic knee pain (recruited from 54 primary care surgeries) were randomized to usual care (pragmatic control) or the ESCAPE-knee pain program. The primary outcome was physical function (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index [WOMAC] function), with a clinically meaningful improvement in physical function defined as a ≥15% change from baseline. Secondary outcomes included pain, psychosocial and physiologic variables, costs, and cost effectiveness.
Results: Compared to usual care, ESCAPE-knee pain participants had large initial improvements in function (mean difference in WOMAC function -5.5; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] -7.8, -3.2). These improvements declined over time, but 30 months after completing the program, ESCAPE-knee pain participants still had better physical function (difference in WOMAC function -2.8; 95% CI -5.3, -0.2); lower community-based health care costs (£-47; 95% CI £-94, £-7), medication costs (£-16; 95% CI £-29, £-3), and total health and social care costs (£-1,118; 95% CI £-2,566, £-221); and a high probability (80-100%) of being cost effective.
Conclusion: Clinical and cost benefits of ESCAPE-knee pain were still evident 30 months after completing the program. ESCAPE-knee pain is a more effective and efficient model of care that could substantially improve the health, well-being, and independence of many people, while reducing health care costs.
Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Rheumatology.