A randomized controlled trial of a combined self-management and exercise intervention for elderly people with osteoarthritis of the knee: the PLE2NO program

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess the effectiveness of a 12-week self-management and exercise intervention (the PLE2NO program) in elderly individuals with knee osteoarthritis.

Design:

Randomized controlled trial.

Setting:

Four different community settings.

Subjects:

Eighty individuals aged 60 years or older with clinical and radiographic knee osteoarthritis enrolled in the study.

Intervention:

A combined self-management and exercise intervention (treatment group) and an educational intervention (control group).

Main measures:

The primary outcomes were pain and other knee osteoarthritis symptoms (swelling, crackling, limitation on movement, and stiffness), self-management behaviors (communication with physician and cognitive symptom management), and functional lower limb strength. Secondary outcomes were knee osteoarthritis–specific health-related quality of life, self-perceived health, aerobic capacity, lower and upper limb flexibility, and handgrip strength.

Results:

In all, 67 participants, mean age 69.1 ± 5.8 years, completed the study: 32 in the Educational Group and 35 in the Self-Management and Exercise Group. A significant group effect favorable to the Self-Management and Exercise Group was observed in the following variables: communication with the physicians (P = .048), aerobic capacity (P = .035), and functional lower limb strength (P = .015). Although no significant group effect was detected, clinical improvements in pain (31%) and knee osteoarthritis symptoms (29%) were observed in the experimental group. No improvements regarding cognitive symptom management, self-perceived health, lower limb flexibility, and handgrip strength were found.

Conclusion:

This study supports the importance of a combined self-management and exercise intervention to improve functional lower limb strength and aerobic capacity in a Portuguese sample. Additionally, pain and other symptoms have improved clinically.

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