Comparison of group-based outpatient physiotherapy with usual care after total knee replacement

The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial comparing group-based outpatient physiotherapy with usual care in patients following total knee replacement.

The study was run as a feasibility study for a randomized controlled trial at a secondary-care hospital orthopaedic centre in Bristol, UK. A total of 46 participants undergoing primary total knee replacement participated.

The intervention group were offered six group-based exercise sessions after surgery. The usual care group received standard postoperative care. Participants were not blinded to group allocation. Feasibility was assessed by recruitment, reasons for non-participation, attendance, and completion rates of study questionnaires that included the Lower Extremity Functional Scale and Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score.

Recruitment rate was 37%. Five patients withdrew or were no longer eligible to participate. Intervention attendance was high (73%) and 84% of group participants reported they were ‘very satisfied’ with the exercises. Return of study questionnaires at six months was lower in the usual care (75%) than in the intervention group (100%). Mean (standard deviation) Lower Extremity Functional Scale scores at six months were 45.0 (20.8) in the usual care and 57.8 (15.2) in the intervention groups.

Recruitment and retention of participants in this feasibility study was good. Group-based physiotherapy was acceptable to participants. Questionnaire return rates were lower in the usual care group, but might be enhanced by telephone follow-up. The Lower Extremity Functional Scale had high responsiveness and completion rates. Using this outcome measure, 256 participants would be required in a full-scale randomized controlled trial.