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Implementation of a group physical therapy program for Veterans with knee osteoarthritis.

Allen KD, Sheets B, Bongiorni D, Choate A, Coffman CJ, Hoenig H, Huffman K, Mahanna EP, Oddone EZ, Van Houtven C, Wang V, Woolson S, Hastings SN. Implementation of a group physical therapy program for Veterans with knee osteoarthritis. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. 2020 Feb 3; 21(1):67.

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BACKGROUND: A previous randomized clinical trial found that a Group Physical Therapy (PT) program for knee osteoarthritis yielded similar improvements in pain and function compared with traditional individual PT. Based on these findings the Group PT program was implemented in a Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System. The objective of this study was to evaluate implementation metrics and changes in patient-level measures following implementation of the Group PT program. METHODS: This was a one-year prospective observational study. The Group PT program involved 6 weekly sessions. Implementation metrics included numbers of referrals and completed sessions. Patient-level measures were collected at the first and last PT sessions and included the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC; self-report of pain, stiffness and function (range 0-96)) and a 30-s chair rise test. RESULTS: During the evaluation period, 152 patients were referred, 80 had an initial session scheduled, 71 completed at least one session and 49 completed at least 5 sessions. The mean number of completed appointments per patient was 4.1. Among patients completing baseline and follow-up measures, WOMAC scores (n? = 33) improved from 56.8 (SD? = 15.8) to 46.9 (SD? = 14.0); number of chair rises (n? = 38) completed in 30?s increased from 10.4 (SD? = 5.1) to 11.9 (SD? = 5.0). CONCLUSIONS: Patients completing the Group PT program in this implementation phase showed clinically relevant improvements comparable to those observed in the previous clinical trial that compared group and individual PT for knee osteoarthritis. These results are important because Group PT can improve efficiency and access compared with individual PT. However, there were some limitations with respect to attendance and completion rates, and program adaptations may be needed to optimize these implementation metrics. Larger, longer-term studies are required to more fully evaluate the effectiveness of this program.

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