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‘I would never have done it if it hadn’t been digital’: a qualitative study on patients’ experiences of a digital management programme for hip and knee osteoarthritis in Sweden
  1. Anna Cronström1,
  2. Leif E Dahlberg1,2,
  3. Håkan Nero1,
  4. Jennifer Ericson3,
  5. Catharina Sjödahl Hammarlund3,4
  1. 1 Orthopaedics, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  2. 2 Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden
  3. 3 Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  4. 4 The PRO-CARE Group, School of Health and Society, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anna Cronström; anna.cronstrom{at}med.lu.se

Abstract

Objectives To investigate the experiences of a digital management programme for hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA), including education and exercises as well as an option to chat with an assigned physical therapist for feedback, questions and support.

Setting This study was conducted at a regional hospital in the southern part of Sweden.

Methods Nineteen patients (10 women), median age of 66 (q1–q3, 57–71) years, with confirmed hip or knee OA were interviewed after completing their first 6 weeks in the programme, using a semistructured interview guide. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and were qualitatively analysed using systematic text condensation.

Results Three categories emerged during the interviews:

(1) Management options for mitigating the consequences of OA; (2) Experiences of the digital programme and (3) Perceived effects of the digital programme over time. The participants had mostly positive experiences of the programme. Particularly important for these experiences were no waiting list, the flexibility of taking part in the programme with regards to location and time and the possibility to have daily contact with a physical therapist. These aspects were also emphasised as advantages compared with traditional care.

Conclusions Digital management of OA, including education and exercise, was experienced as a valid alternative to traditional treatment in enabling the implementation of OA guidelines in a wider community. Easy access, exercising at one’s own convenience, flexible options, daily follow-up and support by a physical therapist were mentioned as the most important features. In addition, the results will contribute to further development and improvement of digital OA management programmes.

  • e-health; digital management; osteoarthritis

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors AC contributed to the design of the study, conducted part of the interviews, was responsible for the analysis and interpretation of the data and was in charge of writing the manuscript. LED contributed to the conception and design of the study, contributed to the interpretation of the data and provided feedback on drafts of this paper. HN contributed to the conception and design of the study, contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data and provided feedback on drafts of this paper. JE contributed to the conception and design of the study, conducted part of the interviews, contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data and provided feedback on drafts of this paper. CSH contributed to the conception and design of the study, contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data and provided feedback on drafts of this paper. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research was funded by Vinnova, Sweden’s Innovation Agency, by Governmental Funding of Clinical Research within the National Health Service (ALF), the Faculty of Medicine, Lund University and by Region Skåne.

  • Competing interests HN is a physical therapist and part time consultant at Joint Academy and LED is the cofounder and Chief Medical Officer in the corporation behind the same programme.

  • Ethics approval The Regional Ethical Review Board in Lund, Sweden (Dnr 2017/651; Dnr 2017/980) approved the study and all patients gave their written informed consent prior to participation.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data sets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

  • Patient and public involvement Obtained.

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