Behavior Change Text Messages for Home Exercise Adherence in Knee Osteoarthritis: Randomized Trial

Kim Bennell, Rachel K. Nelligan, Sarah Schwartz, Jessica Kasza, Alexander Kimp, Samuel Jc Crofts, Rana S. Hinman

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34 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Exercise is a core recommended treatment for knee osteoarthritis (OA), yet adherence declines, particularly following cessation of clinician supervision. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate whether a 24-week SMS intervention improves adherence to unsupervised home exercise in people with knee OA and obesity compared with no SMS. METHODS: A two-group superiority randomized controlled trial was performed in a community setting. Participants were people aged 50 years with knee OA and BMI ≥30 kg/m2 who had undertaken a 12-week physiotherapist-supervised exercise program as part of a preceding clinical trial. Both groups were asked to continue their home exercise program unsupervised three times per week for 24 weeks and were randomly allocated to a behavior change theory-informed, automated, semi-interactive SMS intervention addressing exercise barriers and facilitators or to control (no SMS). Primary outcomes were self-reported home exercise adherence at 24 weeks measured by the Exercise Adherence Rating Scale (EARS) Section B (0-24, higher number indicating greater adherence) and the number of days exercised in the past week (0-3). Secondary outcomes included self-rated adherence (numeric rating scale), knee pain, physical function, quality of life, global change, physical activity, self-efficacy, pain catastrophizing, and kinesiophobia. RESULTS: A total of 110 participants (56 SMS group and 54 no SMS) were enrolled and 99 (90.0%) completed both primary outcomes (48/56, 86% SMS group and 51/54, 94% no SMS). At 24 weeks, the SMS group reported higher EARS scores (mean 16.5, SD 6.5 vs mean 13.3, SD 7.0; mean difference 3.1, 95% CI 0.8-5.5; P=.01) and more days exercised in the past week (mean 1.8, SD 1.2 vs mean 1.3, SD 1.2; mean difference 0.6, 95% CI 0.2-1.0; P=.01) than the control group. There was no evidence of between-group differences in secondary outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: An SMS program increased self-reported adherence to unsupervised home exercise in people with knee OA and obesity, although this did not translate into improved clinical outcomes. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry 12617001243303; INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR2-10.1186/s12891-019-2801-z.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21749
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2020


  • exercise
  • knee osteoarthritis
  • mobile phone
  • patient compliance
  • randomized controlled trial

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