Dupuis F, Perreault K, Hebert LJ, et al. Group Physical Therapy Programs for Military Members With Musculoskeletal Disorders: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2024 Jun;54(6):1-10. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2024.12342. (Original study)

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of personalized, supervised group-based programs (ie, group physical therapy programs) and usual one-on-one physical therapy care (ie, usual physical therapy care) on disability for military personnel suffering from low back pain, rotator cuff-related shoulder pain, patellofemoral pain syndrome, or lateral ankle sprain. Secondary outcomes were pain severity, pain-related fear, health-related quality of life, and patients' satisfaction with their condition and care. DESIGN: Non-inferiority pragmatic randomized clinical trial. METHODS: One hundred twenty military personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces, experiencing 1 of 4 targeted musculoskeletal disorders, were consecutively recruited and randomly assigned to group physical therapy programs or usual physical therapy care. Disability, pain severity, pain-related fear, and health-related quality-of-life outcomes were measured at 6, 12, and 26 weeks after baseline. Satisfaction with treatment was evaluated at the end of the intervention. Intention-to-treat analyses using linear mixed models with random effects were used to compare the effects of interventions. Chi-square tests were used to compare satisfaction. RESULTS: There were no significant Time × Group interactions for any of the primary and secondary outcomes (Time × Group: P>.67). Satisfaction with treatment also did not differ between groups (P>.05). Statistically significant and clinically important improvements were observed in both groups for all outcomes after 12 weeks (Time effect: P<.01), except for health-related quality of life (P = .13). CONCLUSION: Group physical therapy programs were not inferior to usual physical therapy care for managing pain, functional capacity, and patients' satisfaction with care of military personnel presenting with various musculoskeletal disorders. Both interventions led to clinical and statistical improvement in pain and function in the mid and long term. Group physical therapy could be an effective strategy to enhance access to care. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2024;54(6):1-10. Epub 26 Mar 2024. doi:10.2519/jospt.2024.12342.

Discipline Area Score
Physician 6 / 7
Rehab Clinician (OT/PT) 6 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Rehab Clinician (OT/PT) rater

The design of the study is "non-inferiority randomized trial"; this type of studies is one of the studies with low level of evidence among randomized studies. Actually, this design suits the purpose of the article and mentioned population because if group-based rehabilitation gives similar results to one-on-one rehabilitation in the specified population, group-based exercises will be more economical both in terms of time and cost. However, my main concern about the study is that the content of the interventions varied greatly between groups, making the interventions not comparable. In the one-on-one group, the participants didn't only receive active exercises; manual therapy, electrotherapy modalities, and taping were applied. The group-based participants just receive exercises. Rather than comparing group-based therapy with one-on-one therapy, this was like comparing whether active exercises alone or active exercises in combination with specific treatment modalities was superior.
Comments from PAIN+ CPN subscribers

No subscriber has commented on this article yet.