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JMIR Res Protoc. 2013 May 9;2(1):e17. doi: 10.2196/resprot.2553.

Capitalizing on the teachable moment: osteoarthritis physical activity and exercise net for improving physical activity in early knee osteoarthritis.

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Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Richmond, BC, Canada.



Practice guidelines emphasize the use of exercise and weight reduction as the first line of management for knee osteoarthritis (OA). However, less than half of the people with mild OA participate in moderate intensity physical activity. Given that physical activities have been shown to reduce pain, improve quality of life, and have the potential to reduce the progression of joint damage, many people with OA are missing the benefits of this inexpensive intervention.


The objectives of this study are (1) to develop a behavioral theory-informed Internet intervention called Osteoarthritis Physical Activity & Exercise Net (OPEN) for people with previously undiagnosed knee OA, and (2) to assess the efficacy of the OPEN website for improving physical activity participation through a proof-of-concept study.


OPEN was developed based on the theory of planned behavior. Efficacy of this online intervention is being assessed by an ongoing proof-of-concept, single-blind randomized controlled trial in British Columbia, Canada. We are currently recruiting participants and plan to recruit a total of 252 sedentary people with previously undiagnosed knee OA using a set of validated criteria. Half of the participants will be randomized to use OPEN and receive an OA education pamphlet. The other half only will receive the pamphlet. Participants will complete an online questionnaire at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months about their participation in physical activities, health-related quality of life, and motivational outcomes. In addition, we will perform an aerobic fitness test in a sub-sample of participants (n=20 per study arm). In the primary analysis, we will use logistic regression to compare the proportion of participants reporting being physically active at or above the recommended level in the 2 groups, adjusting for baseline measurement, age, and sex.


This study evaluates a theory-informed behavioral intervention at a time when people affected with OA tend to be more motivated to adopt an active lifestyle (ie, at the early stage of OA). Our approach, which consisted of the identification of early knee OA followed immediately by an online intervention that directly targets physical inactivity, can be easily implemented across communities.


Our online intervention directly targets physical inactivity at a time when the joint damage tends to be mild. If OPEN is found to be effective in changing long-term physical activity behaviors, it opens further opportunities to promote early diagnosis and to implement lifestyle interventions.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01608282; (Archived by WebCite at


Internet; lifestyle intervention; osteoarthritis physical activity; theory of planned behavior

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