Implementation of a group physical therapy program for Veterans with knee osteoarthritis.


BACKGROUND:A previous randomized clinical trial found that a Group Physical Therapy (PT) program for knee osteoarthritis yielded similar improvements in pain and function compared with traditional individual PT. Based on these findings the Group PT program was implemented in a Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System. The objective of this study was to evaluate implementation metrics and changes in patient-level measures following implementation of the Group PT program. METHODS:This was a one-year prospective observational study. The Group PT program involved 6 weekly sessions. Implementation metrics included numbers of referrals and completed sessions. Patient-level measures were collected at the first and last PT sessions and included the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC; self-report of pain, stiffness and function (range 0-96)) and a 30-s chair rise test. RESULTS:During the evaluation period, 152 patients were referred, 80 had an initial session scheduled, 71 completed at least one session and 49 completed at least 5 sessions. The mean number of completed appointments per patient was 4.1. Among patients completing baseline and follow-up measures, WOMAC scores (n = 33) improved from 56.8 (SD = 15.8) to 46.9 (SD = 14.0); number of chair rises (n = 38) completed in 30 s increased from 10.4 (SD = 5.1) to 11.9 (SD = 5.0). CONCLUSIONS:Patients completing the Group PT program in this implementation phase showed clinically relevant improvements comparable to those observed in the previous clinical trial that compared group and individual PT for knee osteoarthritis. These results are important because Group PT can improve efficiency and access compared with individual PT. However, there were some limitations with respect to attendance and completion rates, and program adaptations may be needed to optimize these implementation metrics. Larger, longer-term studies are required to more fully evaluate the effectiveness of this program.





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Publication Info

Allen, Kelli D, Brandon Sheets, Dennis Bongiorni, Ashley Choate, Cynthia J Coffman, Helen Hoenig, Kim Huffman, Elizabeth P Mahanna, et al. (2020). Implementation of a group physical therapy program for Veterans with knee osteoarthritis. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 21(1). p. 67. 10.1186/s12891-020-3079-x Retrieved from

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Kelli Dominick Allen

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine
  • Improving care and outcomes for individuals with osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions with an emphasis on non-pharmacological therapies including physical activity, weight management, rehabilitation services, and pain coping
    * Understanding rand reducing disparities in musculoskeletal conditions
    * Musculoskeletal conditions in U.S. military Veterans
    * Pragmatic clinical trials
    * Adaptive interventions

Cynthia Jan Coffman

Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Helen Marie Hoenig

Professor of Medicine
  1. General Focus and Goals of Research: Dr. Hoenig's research focuses on rehabilitation, and more specifically on assistive technology and teletechnology. Patient populations of interest include geriatric patients with diverse medical problems including stroke, spinal and/or musculoskeletal disorders.

    2. Specific Approaches or Techniques: Randomized controlled trials, epidemiological studies including large data base analyses and survey research. Clinical trials include studies of the effects of motorized scooters in persons with difficulty walking, methods for providing wheelchairs, and telerehabilitation for exercise & functional mobility training in the home. Epidemiological studies and survey research have examined use of assistive technology and other coping strategies to disability.

    4. Special areas of expertise/national recognition: Rehabilitation health services research, geriatric rehabilitation, assistive technology outcomes, telerehabilitation.

    KEY WORDS/PHRASES: Rehabilitation, Process and Outcomes Research, Assistive Technology, Telehealth, Activities of Daily Living, Geriatrics, Disability.

Kim Marie Huffman

Associate Professor of Medicine

Determining the role of physical activity in modulating health outcomes (cardiovascular disease risk) in persons with rheumatologic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis)

Integrating clinical rheumatology, basic immunology, metabolism, and exercise science in order to reduce morbidity in individuals with arthritis

Evaluating relationships between circulating and intra-muscular metabolic intermediates and insulin resistance in sedentary as well as individuals engaging in regular exercise

Addressing the role of physical activity in modulating inflammation, metabolism, and functional health in aging populations


Eugene Zaverio Oddone

Professor Emeritus of Medicine

I am a health services researcher whose primary research interests are: 1) evaluating the effectiveness of primary care with an emphasis on chronic disease, 2) assessing the reasons and testing interventions to reduce racial variation in access the health care and utilization of health services, 3) determining appropriate interventions to improve blood pressure control for hypertensive patients treated in primary care. I have research expertise in racial variation, blood pressure control, disease management, and tele-medicine. I also have methodologic expertise in designing and testing health services interventions in multi-site clinical trials.

Key words: primary care, racial variation, quality of care, hypertension

Van Houtven

Courtney Harold Van Houtven

Professor in Population Health Sciences

Dr. Courtney Van Houtven is a Professor in The Department of Population Health Science, Duke University School of Medicine and Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. She is also a Research Career Scientist in The Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT), Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Dr. Van Houtven’s aging and economics research interests encompass long-term care financing, intra-household decision-making, unpaid family and friend care, and home- and community-based services. She examines how family caregiving affects health care utilization, expenditures, health and work outcomes of care recipients and caregivers. She is also interested in understanding how best to support family caregivers to optimize caregiver and care recipient outcomes.

Dr. Van Houtven  is co-PI on the QUERI Program Project, “Optimizing Function and Independence”, in which her caregiver skills training program developed as an RCT in VA, now called Caregivers FIRST, has been implemented at 125 VA sites nationally. The team will evaluate how intensification of an implementation strategy changes adoption. She directs the VA-CARES Evaluation Center, which evaluates the VA’s Caregiver Support Program. She leads a mixed methods R01 study as PI from the National Institute on Aging that will assess the value of "home time" for persons living with dementia and their caregivers (RF1 AG072364).

Areas of expertise: Health Services Research and Health Economics


Virginia Wang

Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences

Dr. Virginia Wang is an Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences and Medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine and Core Faculty in the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. She is also a Core Investigator in the Health Services Research Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation at the Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Dr. Wang received her PhD in Health Policy and Management, with a focus on organizational behavior. Her research examines organizational influences and policy on the provision of health services, provider strategy and performance, care coordination, and outcomes for patients with complex chronic disease.

Dr. Wang’s research has been supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health.

Areas of expertise:  health services research, organizational behavior, health policy, implementation and program evaluation

Susan Nicole Hastings

Professor of Medicine

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