Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease, causing pain and functional impairments. According to international guidelines, exercise therapy has a short-term effect in reducing pain/functional impairments in knee OA and is therefore also generally recommended for hip OA. Because of its high prevalence and clinical implications, OA is associated with considerable (healthcare) costs. However, studies evaluating cost-effectiveness of common exercise therapy in hip OA are lacking. Therefore, this randomised controlled trial is designed to investigate the cost-effectiveness of exercise therapy in conjunction with the general practitioner's (GP) care, compared to GP care alone, for patients with hip OA.
Patients aged ≥ 45 years with OA of the hip, who consulted the GP during the past year for hip complaints and who comply with the American College of Rheumatology criteria, are included. Patients are randomly assigned to either exercise therapy in addition to GP care, or to GP care alone. Exercise therapy consists of (maximally) 12 treatment sessions with a physiotherapist, and home exercises. These are followed by three additional treatment sessions in the 5th, 7th and 9th month after the first treatment session. GP care consists of usual care for hip OA, such as general advice or prescribing pain medication. Primary outcomes are hip pain and hip-related activity limitations (measured with the Hip disability Osteoarthritis Outcome Score [HOOS]), direct costs, and productivity costs (measured with the PROductivity and DISease Questionnaire). These parameters are measured at baseline, at 6 weeks, and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up. To detect a 25% clinical difference in the HOOS pain score, with a power of 80% and an alpha 5%, 210 patients are required. Data are analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle. Effectiveness is evaluated using linear regression models with repeated measurements. An incremental cost-effectiveness analysis and an incremental cost-utility analysis will also be performed.