Reported practices related to, and capability to provide, first-line knee osteoarthritis treatments: a survey of 1064 Australian physical therapists
journal contributionposted on 2022-01-24, 00:34 authored by Christian BartonChristian Barton, Marcella Ferraz PazzinattoMarcella Ferraz Pazzinatto, Kay CrossleyKay Crossley, Karen DundulesKaren Dundules, Natasha LanninNatasha Lannin, Matthew FrancisMatthew Francis, Jason WallisJason Wallis, Joanne KempJoanne Kemp
Background: Physical therapists play a key role in providing first-line knee osteoarthritis treatments, including patient education and exercise therapy. Objectives: Describe Australian physical therapists’ awareness of guidelines; reported practices; and beliefs about capability, opportunity, motivation, and evidence. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey was completed by physical therapists prior to attending the Good Living with osteoArthritis from Denmark (GLA:D®) Australia training courses (March 2017 to December 2019). The survey instrument was developed by an expert panel and was informed by the Theoretical Domains Framework. Results: 1064 physical therapists from all Australian states and territories participated. 11% (n = 121) could name an accepted guideline, 98% agreed it was their job to deliver patient education and exercise therapy, and 92% agreed this would optimise outcomes. Most reported providing strength exercise (99%), written exercise instructions (95%), treatment goal discussion (88%), and physical activity advice (83%) all or most of the time. Fewer provided aerobic exercise (66%), neuromuscular exercise (54%), and weight management discussion (56%) all or most of the time. Approximately one quarter (23–24%) believed they did not have the skills, knowledge, or confidence to provide education and exercise therapy recommended by guidelines, and just 48% agreed they had been trained to do so. Conclusion: Australian physical therapists treating knee osteoarthritis typically provide strength-based home exercise with written instructions, alongside goal setting and physical activity advice. Just one in nine could name a guideline. Education and training activities are needed to support physical therapists to access, read and implement guidelines, especially for aerobic and neuromuscular exercise, and weight management.