DOI: 10.1002/acr2.11643 ISSN: 2578-5745

An Online Program for Primary Care Practitioners to Enhance Confidence in Ability to Care for Patients With or at Risk of Painful Knee Osteoarthritis

Lisa A. Mandl, Myriam A. Lin, Sarah P. Gottesman, Erin Mich‐Gennari, Nicole Wall, Anan Nathif, Xiaoyue Ma, Juliet Aizer
  • Rheumatology


Primary care practitioners (PCPs) care for the majority of patients with knee osteoarthritis (KOA). Despite the existing evidence‐based guidelines, PCPs often feel unequipped to evaluate and effectively treat patients with KOA. To address this need, we designed and implemented a free internet‐based program focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of KOA. We assessed whether the program led to improvements in participants’ confidence in their knowledge and skills related to effectively recognizing and caring for patients with or at risk of KOA.


We used Caffarella's integrative model to develop a program aligned with the American College of Rheumatology 2019 Guideline for the treatment of KOA. The program incorporated 18 case‐based questions to provide retrieval practice and mastery experiences. We assessed changes in participants’ confidence in their KOA knowledge and skills after program completion.


Of the first 353 learners completing the program, 53.8% were women, 41.9% had a clinical focus in primary care, and 69.1% were nonphysicians. Overall confidence in KOA knowledge and skills improved after program completion (P < 0.001; effect size = 1.28, 95% confidence interval 1.12–1.45), with largest improvements among participants with lower pre‐program confidence. A total of 95.8% of participants indicated they would recommend the program to others.


A free online program focusing on the effective care for patients with KOA attracted a wide range of learners, even though it targeted PCPs. Participants overwhelmingly endorsed it as highly relevant and would recommend it to others. Whether improvements in confidence translate into better patient outcomes is an important area for future research.

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