Telephone coaching improves exercise adherence but not pain for knee osteoarthritis.


A recently completed study at the University of Melbourne's Centre for Health Exercise and Sports Medicine (CHESM) published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research found that the addition of telephone coaching to a physiotherapy program was able to increase adherence to a home exercise, but not improve pain and function compared to a group who completed the same physiotherapy program without the telephone coaching.

One hundred and sixty eight inactive adults with painful knee osteoarthritis were randomly allocated to either physiotherapy treatment or physiotherapy plus telephone coaching (84 in each group). All participants received 5 sessions with a physiotherapist over 6 months for education, home exercise and physical activity advice. Participants allocated to the telephone coaching group also received 6-12 telephone coaching sessions by clinicians trained in behaviour change support for exercise and physical activity.

Pain and physical function were significantly improved in both groups at 6 months after the commencement of the program, though improvements did not differ between the two groups. This was despite improvements in physical activity levels and home exercise performance in the group who received telephone coaching. Participants were also assessed at 12 and 18 months, which also found no differences in pain and physical function.


Bennell K, Campbell P, Egerton T, Metcalf B, Kasza J, Forbes A, Bills C, Gale J, Harris A, Kolt G, Bunker S, Hunter D, Brand C, Hinman R. Telephone coaching to enhance a home-based physical activity program for knee osteoarthritis: A randomised clinical trial. Arthritis Care & Research. 2016 (in press).

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