Productive Partnerships

University of Melbourne

Telephone-delivered self-management advice for knee osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA), predominantly affecting the knee, is a leading cause of musculoskeletal pain and disability affecting nearly 4 million Australians. The total economic cost of OA in Australia in 2012 was $8.5 billion. While musculoskeletal conditions are one of the biggest health issues today, they remain amongst the most neglected areas of health care.

The Medibank Better Health Foundation, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, aims to provide much needed attention to knee osteoarthritis in Australia. With the support of Medibank funding, the University of Melbourne is conducting an Australia-wide clinical trial comparing two different forms of telephone-delivered self-management advice for people aged over 45 years of age with painful knee osteoarthritis. People from regional, rural and remote geographical areas, from all Australian states and territories, are being recruited. Eligible participants will receive advice for the self-management of their knee osteoarthritis over the telephone, and will be monitored via surveys over 12 months. Advice will be delivered by qualified health professionals trained in best-practice management of arthritis.

The project aims to deliver much needed resources to participants Australia-wide. Unfortunately, not all Australians with knee osteoarthritis have easy access to health professionals who can advise them how to best self-manage their knee osteoarthritis symptoms. Difficulties with transport or financial hardship can prevent many people from attending health care services. In regional, rural or remote areas of Australia, limited health services make it even more difficult for people with knee osteoarthritis to access appropriate care. One way to improve access to healthcare is to provide self- management advice and support by health professionals, who are specially trained in the management of osteoarthritis, over the telephone.