TRACK OA: Improving physical activity using a wearable activity tracker: pilot testing a new model of care for knee osteoarthritis

Principal Investigator: Linda Li, Senior Research Scientist of Clinical Epidemiology, BSc(PT), MSc, PhD. Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia

When will the final results be reported?

Recruitment has begun for this study (January 2015) and we anticipate results will be published in the fall of 2015.

Why do this research?

For people with arthritis, doing physical activity can reduce pain and improve their ability to move around. Despite these benefits, less than half of Canadians with arthritis are physically active. Many do not have appropriate access to health professionals to support them in staying active safely.

A number of online physical activity monitoring tools are available. Examples include online diaries, pedometers, multisensory devices and global positioning system (GPS) monitors. We will examine factors that can influence arthritis patients’ use of these tools from the perspectives of patients, health professionals, and health care decision makers. This study takes an important step forward in discovering how people with arthritis could use these tools with their health professionals to support their physical activity.

What will be done?

Physical activity is a well-known way to help decrease symptoms of pain and increase mobility for patients living with knee osteoarthritis.  Despite this, a recent study found that less than 15% of people with knee osteoarthritis were getting the recommended 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week.  TRACK-OA is a pilot study to test a new program that uses wearable activity trackers to help people with knee pain set goals and get active at a pace that’s right for them.

The program will involve:

  1. A group education session
  2. The use of a Fitbit Flex – a wireless physical activity tracking device
  3. Telephone activity counseling by a registered physiotherapist

The goal of this study is to test the feasibility of this new program as well as assess whether or not it helps people with knee osteoarthritis increase their physical activity time and reduce their sedentary time.

Who is funding the research?

This study is generously funded by The Arthritis Society BC/Yukon

Who is on the research team?


Charles Goldsmith – MSc, PhD.

Lynne Feehan – BSc (PT), MSc, PhD. Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, UBC. Lead, Clinical Research, Rehabilitation at Fraser Health.

Bill Miller – BSc (OT), MSc (OT), PhD. Professor, UBC School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Scientist, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation at Vancouver Coastal Health.

Research Staff:

Navi Grewal – Research Coordinator, Arthritis Research Canada

Joanna Ye – Research Assistant, Arthritis Research Canada

Cam Clayton – MSc Candidate, Arthritis Research Canada

Jenny Leese – PhD Trainee, Arthritis Research Canada

Jasmina Memetovic – Research Coordinator, Arthritis Research Canada


Li LC, Sayre EC, Xie H, Clayton C, Feehan LM. A Community-Based Physical Activity Counselling Program for People With Knee Osteoarthritis: Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy of the Track-OA Study. JMIR Publications. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.7863. To view publication, click here.

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