Journal of Medical Internet Research (Sep 2020)

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

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

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 9
p. e21749


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BackgroundExercise is a core recommended treatment for knee osteoarthritis (OA), yet adherence declines, particularly following cessation of clinician supervision. ObjectiveThis 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. MethodsA 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. ResultsA 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. ConclusionsAn 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 RegistrationAustralian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry 12617001243303; International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)RR2-10.1186/s12891-019-2801-z