Developing an App Which Will Empower Patients to Self-Diagnose and Manage Knee Osteoarthritis

Scientific Study Title:

Power to the Patients: Reshaping Knee Osteoarthritis Diagnosis and Secondary Prevention with E-Health

Principal Investigator:

Linda Li PT, PhD (UBC), John Esdaile MD, MPH, FRCPC, FCAHS (UBC)

Start and End Date:

2018 – 2020

Why do this research?

For people with knee osteoarthritis (OA), early diagnosis and intervention before damage is advanced makes a difference. At this stage, the key to treatment is exercise, weight management, and use of the safest pain medication. Alarmingly, studies in Ontario and British Columbia have shown that the majority diagnosed with knee OA are not getting the right advice, and worse still, many who are seeing a physician are not being diagnosed quickly enough, or not diagnosed at all. We have previously developed and tested a questionnaire and a mobile app, Arthritis ID, to assist a person with knee pain to know they have knee OA with a 95% certainty. It can detect people with x-ray evidence of knee OA, but also those with very early disease (i.e., normal x-rays and only mild changes on MRI). We have also developed free online/mobile apps – OPEN and FitViz, for people to self-manage their knee OA. Currently, the three apps act independently of each other each serving a distinct function and providing a different user experience. But, they also share a number of overlapping functions (both Arthritis ID and OPEN offer educational materials; OPEN and Fitviz have similar physical activity goal-setting functions).  Using these apps in their current state is cumbersome and hindering their uptake. By combining these apps into a new super-app, we will empower patients to take charge and prevent disabling pain, and improve care to a gold standard level.

What will be done?

The knee health app will combine three apps (Arthritis ID, OPEN, and FitViz) into one knee health app. Participants will be screened and if eligible will be given full access to the app. The knee health app will provide education about knee pain and OA, it will help guide participants in setting their activity goals, give tips on how to be active, and provide suggestions on local facilities via Google Maps. Participants will be asked to look at their activity levels at least three times a week for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, participants will be asked if they would participate in a 30-minute interview by phone to go over their experiences with the knee health app.

Who is involved?

We will recruit 50 participants for this study. They will be considered eligible if they: 1) are over the age of 50 years, and, 2) have had knee pain, aching, or discomfort for 28 days in the past year. Recruitment will be done through pharmacies. This will be done through shelf-talkers and posters at participating pharmacies.

Who is funding this research?

Canadian Initiative for Outcomes in Rheumatology Care (CIORA)


Chris Shaw MSc, PhD (SFU), Jolanda Cibere MD, FRCPC, PhD (Arthritis Research Canada & UBC), Gillian Hawker MD, MSc (Women’s College Hospital & UoT) , Hui Xie MS, PhD (Arthritis Research Canada & SFU).

Research Staff:

Hussein Mamdani (Arthritis Research Canada)  

How do people get involved?

Patients will be recruited through advertisements seen at their local pharmacies. These will include shelf-talkers (placed in sections displaying over the counter drugs, NSAIDs, and nutraceuticals). Also, posters will be placed at check-outs and pharmacists counters. Pharmacists will also be used to inform patients of the study and refer them to the study coordinator for informed consent. If you would like to take part in this study or seek more information, please contact: Hussein Mamdani, 604-207-4007,