"Sounds a Bit Crazy, But It Was Almost More Personal:" A Qualitative Study of Patient and Clinician Experiences of Physical Therapist-Prescribed Exercise For Knee Osteoarthritis Via Skype

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Dec;69(12):1834-1844. doi: 10.1002/acr.23218. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Objective: To explore the experience of patients and physical therapists with Skype for exercise management of knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods: This was a qualitative study. The Donabedian model for quality assessment in health care (structure, process, and outcomes) informed semistructured individual interview questions. The study involved 12 purposively sampled patients with knee OA who received physical therapist-prescribed exercise over Skype, and all therapists (n = 8) who delivered the intervention in a clinical trial were interviewed about their experiences. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Two investigators undertook coding and analysis using a thematic approach.

Results: Six themes arose from both patients and therapists. The themes were Structure: technology (easy to use, variable quality, set-up assistance helpful) and patient convenience (time efficient, flexible, increased access); Process: empowerment to self-manage (facilitated by home environment and therapists focusing on effective treatment) and positive therapeutic relationships (personal undivided attention from therapists, supportive friendly interactions); and Outcomes: satisfaction with care (satisfying, enjoyable, patients would recommend, therapists felt Skype more useful as adjunct to usual practice) and patient benefits (reduced pain, improved function, improved confidence and self-efficacy). A seventh theme arose from therapists regarding process: adjusting routine treatment (need to modify habits, discomfort without hands-on, supported by research environment).

Conclusion: Patients and physical therapists described mostly positive experiences using Skype as a service delivery model for physical therapist-supervised exercise management of moderate knee OA. Such a model is feasible and acceptable and has the potential to increase access to supervised exercise management for people with knee OA, either individually or in combination with traditional in-clinic visits.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / psychology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physical Therapists / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Remote Consultation*
  • Self Care
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Videoconferencing*