Technology versus tradition: a non-inferiority trial comparing video to face-to-face consultations with a physiotherapist for people with knee osteoarthritis. Protocol for the PEAK randomised controlled trial

Rana S. Hinman, Alexander J. Kimp, Penny K. Campbell, Trevor Russell, Nadine E. Foster, Jessica Kasza, Anthony Harris, Kim L. Bennell

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22 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a global problem that causes significant pain and physical dysfunction, substantially impacting on quality of life and imposing enormous cost to the healthcare system. Exercise is pivotal to OA management, yet uptake by people with knee OA is inadequate. Limited access to appropriately skilled health professionals, such as physiotherapists, for prescription of an exercise program and support with exercise is a major barrier to optimal care. Internet-enabled video consultations permit widespread reach. However, services offering video consultations with physiotherapists for musculoskeletal conditions are scant in Australia where there is typically no Government or private health insurer funding for such services. The paucity of robust evidence demonstrating video consultations with physiotherapists are clinically effective, safe and cost-effective for knee OA is hampering implementation of, and willingness of healthcare policymakers to pay for, these services. METHODS: This is an assessor- and participant-blinded, two-arm, pragmatic, comparative effectiveness non-inferiority randomised controlled trial (RCT) conducted in Australia. We are recruiting 394 people from the community with chronic knee pain consistent with a clinical diagnosis of knee OA. Participants are randomly allocated to receive physiotherapy care via i) video-conferencing or; ii) face-to-face consultations. Participants are provided five consultations (30-45 min each) with a physiotherapist over 3 months for prescription of a home-based strengthening exercise program (to be conducted independently at home) and physical activity plan, as well as OA education. Participants in both groups are provided with educational booklets and simple exercise equipment via post. The co-primary outcomes are change in self-reported i) knee pain on walking; and ii) physical function, with a primary end-point of 3 months and a secondary end-point of 9 months. Secondary outcomes include changes in other clinical outcomes (health-related quality of life; therapeutic relationship; global ratings of change; satisfaction with care; self-efficacy; physical activity levels), time and financial costs of attending consultations, healthcare usage and convenience. Non-inferiority will be assessed using the per-protocol dataset. DISCUSSION: Findings will determine if video consultations with physiotherapists are non-inferior to traditional face-to-face consultations for management of people with knee OA. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12619001240134.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2020


  • Clinical trial
  • Exercise
  • Knee
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Non-inferiority
  • OA
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain
  • Physical activity
  • Physiotherapy
  • RCT
  • Rehabilitation
  • Telehealth
  • Telerehabilitation

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