Background: Despite the availability of evidence-based guidelines for conservative treatment of osteoarthritis (OA), management is often confined to the use of analgesics and waiting for eventual total joint replacement. This suggests a gap in knowledge for persons with OA regarding the many different treatments available to them.
Objective: Our objective was to evaluate outcomes after usage of a Web-based resource called My Joint Pain that contains tailored, evidence-based information and tools aimed to improve self-management of OA on self-management and change in knowledge.
Methods: A quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the My Joint Pain website intervention over a 12-month period. The intervention provided participants with general and user-specific information, monthly assessments with validated instruments, and progress-tracking tools. A nationwide convenience sample of 195 participants with self-assessed hip and/or knee OA completed both baseline and 12-month questionnaires (users: n=104; nonusers: n=91). The primary outcome measure was the Health Evaluation Impact Questionnaire (heiQ) to evaluate 8 different domains (health-directed activity, positive and active engagement in life, emotional distress, self-monitoring and insight, constructive attitudes and approaches, skill and technique acquisition, social integration and support, health service navigation) and the secondary outcome measure was the 17-item Osteoarthritis Quality Indicator (OAQI) questionnaire to evaluate the change in appropriateness of care received by participants. Independent t tests were used to compare changes between groups for the heiQ and chi-square tests to identify changes within and between groups from baseline to 12 months for each OAQI item.
Results: Baseline demographics between groups were similar for gender (152/195, 77.9% female), age (mean 60, SD 9 years) and body mass index (mean 31.1, SD 6.8 kg/m(2)). With the exception of health service navigation, mean effect sizes from all other heiQ domains showed a positive trend for My Joint Pain users compared to the nonusers, although the differences between groups did not reach statistical significance. Within-group changes also showed improvements among the users of the My Joint Pain website for self-management (absolute change score=15%, P=.03), lifestyle (absolute change score=16%, P=.02), and physical activity (absolute change score=11%, P=.04), with no significant improvements for the nonusers. Following 12 months of exposure to the website, there were significant improvements for users compared to nonusers in self-management (absolute change score 15% vs 2%, P=.001) and weight reduction (absolute change scores 3% vs -6%, P=.03) measured on the OAQI.
Conclusions: The My Joint Pain Web resource does not significantly improve overall heiQ, but does improve other important aspects of quality of care in people with hip and/or knee OA. Further work is required to improve engagement with the website and the quality of information delivered in order to provide a greater impact.
Keywords: Internet; eHealth; osteoarthritis; quality of health care; self-care.