Reported practices related to, and capability to provide, first-line knee osteoarthritis treatments: a survey of 1064 Australian physical therapists

Christian J. Barton, Marcella F. Pazzinatto, Kay M. Crossley, Karen Dundules, Natasha A. Lannin, Matt Francis, Jason Wallis, Joanne L. Kemp

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6 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-863
Number of pages10
JournalBrazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Education
  • Evidence
  • Exercise
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Physical therapy

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