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Prim Health Care Res Dev. 2016 May;17(3):252-64. doi: 10.1017/S1463423615000389.

Group exercise and self-management for older adults with osteoarthritis: a feasibility study.

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  • 1Warwick Clinical Trials Unit,Division of Health Sciences,Warwick Medical School,The University of Warwick,Coventry,UK.



Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition expected to be the fourth leading cause of disability by the year 2020. Treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is problematic in older adults (>75 years) where the presence of comorbidities is more prevalent. Exercise has been recommended irrespective of age and comorbidity. The purpose of this project was to develop a combined exercise and self-management intervention to help older adults with OA to manage their comorbidities.


Literature reviews were conducted to inform the development of an intervention followed by a pilot study to assess feasibility and test outcome measures. Participant interviews and session observation were used to evaluate the pilot study.


Evidence from the literature reviews suggested that a combined intervention consisting of behavioural change/self-management education and exercise was the most appropriate. Each component was developed and then tested as a combined package in a pilot study which comprised 12 sessions delivered over six weeks. Four males and six females aged between 75 and 92 years took part. The average attendance was 89%. Most participants reported some benefit and satisfaction with the programme along with changes in physical ability. The majority of participants continued with some form of exercise at three months.


The intervention was well received and has encouraged 80% of participants to continue exercising after the programme. The small but positive changes seen in comorbidities, benefit of the intervention, satisfaction and general health are promising. Randomised controlled trial evidence of effectiveness and cost effectiveness is needed before such interventions can be recommended.


behaviour change; exercise; osteoarthritis; physical activity; self-management

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