Formulating Knee Osteoarthritis Management Plans Taking Type 2 Diabetes Into Account: Qualitative Study of Arthritis Therapists Using Theoretical Domains Framework

J Rheumatol. 2022 Dec;49(12):1365-1371. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.220535. Epub 2022 Sep 15.


Objective: Delivering person-centered care in individuals with knee osteoarthritis (OA) necessitates consideration of other chronic conditions that frequently co-occur. We sought to understand the extent to which arthritis therapists consider type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) when treating persons with knee OA and concomitant T2DM, and barriers to doing so.

Methods: We conducted 18 semistructured telephone interviews with arthritis therapists working within a provincially funded arthritis care program (Arthritis Society Canada) in Ontario, Canada. We first analyzed interviews deductively using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to comprehensively identify barriers and enablers to health behaviors. Then, within TDF domains, we inductively developed themes.

Results: We identified 5 TDF domains as prominently influencing the behavior of arthritis therapists considering concomitant T2DM when developing a knee OA management plan. These were as follows: therapists' perceived lack of specific knowledge around comorbidities including diabetes; the lack of breadth in skills in behavioral change techniques to help patients set and reach their goals, particularly when it came to physical activity; variable intention to factor a patient's comorbidity profile to influence their treatment recommendations; the perception of their professional role and identity as joint focused; and the environmental context with lack of formalized follow-up structure of the current Arthritis Society Canada program that limited sufficient patient monitoring and follow-up.

Conclusion: Within the context of a Canadian arthritis program, we identified several barriers to arthritis therapists considering T2DM in their management plan for persons with knee OA and T2DM. These results can help inform strategies to improve person-centered OA care and overall health outcomes.

Keywords: comorbidity; knee osteoarthritis; physical activity; physical therapy; qualitative; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Ontario
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / therapy
  • Professional Role
  • Qualitative Research

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