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J Rheumatol. 2010 Jun;37(6):1244-51. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.090989. Epub 2010 Apr 15.

Clinically important improvement in function is common in people with or at high risk of knee OA: the MOST study.

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  • 1Clinical Epidemiology Research and Training Unit, Boston University School of Medicine, 650 Albany Street X 200, Boston, MA 02118, USA.



To calculate the frequency of clinically important improvement in function over 30 months and identify risk factors in people who have or are at risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA).


Subjects were from the Multicenter Osteoarthritis (MOST), a longitudinal study of persons with or at high risk of knee OA. We defined minimal clinically important improvement (MCII) with the Western Ontario McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) physical function using 3 different methods. Baseline risk factors tested for improvement included age, sex, educational attainment, presence of radiographic knee OA (ROA), the number of comorbidities, body mass index (BMI), knee pain, walking speed, isokinetic knee extensor strength, depressive symptoms, physical activity, and medication usage. We used logistic regression to evaluate the association of baseline risk factors with MCII.


Of the 1801 subjects (mean age 63 yrs, BMI = 31, 63% women), most had mild limitations in baseline function (WOMAC = 19 +/- 11). Regardless of how defined, a substantial percentage of subjects (24%-39%) reached MCII at 30 months. Compared to their counterparts, people with MCII were less likely to have ROA and to use medications, and were more likely to have a lower BMI, less knee pain, a faster walking speed, more knee strength, and fewer depressive symptoms. After adjustment, MCII was 40% to 50% less likely in those with ROA, and 1.9 to 2.0 times more likely in those walking 1.0 meters/second faster than counterparts.


Clinically important improvement is frequent in people with or at high risk of knee OA. The absence of ROA and a faster walking speed appear to be associated with clinically important improvements.

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