BACKGROUND Exercise is recommended as a principal treatment for individuals with knee osteoarthritis (KOA). However, the best choice for an optimal exercise program able to promote long-term compliance in KOA patients is not clear. This study aims to compare the effect of combined exercise (CE: quadriceps strengthening exercises (QSE) and Baduanjin qigong training (BDJ)) versus QSE alone and BDJ alone on older adults with KOA.
METHODS A three-arm, quasi-experimental trial with repeated measurements was used. As a cluster randomized trial, participants from three community centers were assigned respectively to QSE group, BDJ group and CE group. We assessed pain intensity, physical function, self-efficacy, and health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) using standardized instruments at baseline, 3 months and 6 months follow-up.
RESULTS One hundred and twenty-eight participants with KOA aged over 60 completed the study. Over the 6 months, there were significant group interaction effects on pain intensity (F = 28.888, P < 0.001), physical function (F = 26.646, P < 0.001), and self-efficacy (F = 22.359, P < 0.001), and, based on a short form-12 item health survey questionnaire (SF-12), physical component summary (F = 7.470, P < 0.001), and mental component summary (F = 10.207, P < 0.001). Overall, the CE group exhibited significantly greater improvement in all outcomes when compared to the QSE group and the BDJ group.
CONCLUSIONS CE treatment is more effective than QSE and BDJ in pain relief, increasing physical function, improving self-efficacy, and raising quality-of-life in community-dwelling KOA older adults. Moreover, it promotes long-term compliance in KOA community patients.