Measuring physiotherapy performance in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a prospective study.

Jamtvedt G, Thuve Dahm K, Holm I, Flottorp S

The purpose of this study is to measure physiotherapy performance in patient with knee OA by comparing clinical practice to evidence from systematic reviews. A total of 297 physiotherapists reported their management for patients with knee OA. Exercise was the most common treatment used, provided by 98% of the physiotherapists. There is high-quality evidence that exercise reduces pain and improves function in patients with knee OA. Thirty-five percent of physiotherapists used acupuncture, low-level laser therapy or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation which has moderate-quality evidence for reducing pain. Patient education, which has moderate-quality evidence for improving psychological outcomes, was provided by 68%. Physiotherapists used a median of four different treatment modalities for each patient, and offered many treatment modalities with low-quality evidence or no evidence from systematic reviews, e.g., traction and mobilisation, massage, stretching and different types of advice.

Exercise was used in almost all treatment sessions in the management of knee OA. This practice is desirable since it is supported by high quality evidence. Physiotherapists also provide several other treatment modalities based on evidence of moderate or low quality, or no evidence from systematic reviews.

BMC Health Services Research, 2008, 8(1), 145

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