Introduction: Knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA) affects 2.2 million Australians. Symptoms (pain and stiffness) reduce physical activity and impair health-related quality of life. Good Living with osteoArthritis from Denmark (GLA:D®) is an evidence-based program providing education and exercise-therapy for people with knee and hip OA, now offered at more than 400 sites across all states and territories in Australia. A key barrier to GLA:D® is the need to attend face-to-face sessions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we expanded implementation to support GLA:D® via telehealth. This project evaluates the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM framework) of GLA:D® via telehealth in Australia during the pandemic.
Method: In this cohort study, people with hip or knee OA who reported completing telehealth-only GLA:D® at 3-month follow-up from March 2020-March 2021 were identified from the GLA:D® Australia registry. RE-AIM dimensions were examined descriptively. For the effectiveness domain, mean differences [MD, (95% confidence intervals)] from baseline to 3-month follow-up were calculated for pain (visual analogue scale, 0-100), quality of life (knee injury and osteoarthritis outcome score or hip disability and osteoarthritis outcome score - joint-related quality of life sub-scales), and 30-second chair stand test.
Discussion: Participant demographics and clinical outcomes related to GLA:D® delivered via telehealth in Australia during the pandemic were comparable to published data related to face-to-face delivery. However, implementation was limited. Future qualitative work will explore barriers and enablers of GLA:D® via telehealth to guide strategies and resources (e.g. training, telehealth toolkit) to normalise the delivery of GLA:D® via telehealth as part of physiotherapy practice.
Conflict of interest statement: GLA:D® Australia is a not-for-profit organization that receives income from training physiotherapy training courses. This income contributes to salary support for AE, MP, KD.