OBJECTIVE: To explore clinicians' attitudes and beliefs about physical activity and exercise therapy as treatment for individuals with knee and/or hip osteoarthritis (OA).
METHOD: This was a scoping review, mapping available knowledge about the topic derived from qualitative research designs and methods. A comprehensive search of selected databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE; CINAHL; Web of Science) was conducted and data were analysed thematically.
RESULTS: Twelve articles met inclusion criteria. Thematic analysis identified three interrelated main themes: 1) Understandings of OA and its trajectory and management; 2) Attitudes to activity and exercise as part of OA management; 3) Clinicians' perceived knowledge of and expertise in OA management. Findings highlight that many clinicians involved in knee/hip OA management, particularly general practitioners and physiotherapists, perceive OA to be a low priority 'wear-and-tear' disease with expected progression of symptoms, making joint replacement surgery eventually inevitable. Further, many clinicians appear to lack knowledge about and interest in physical activity and exercise therapy in the management of knee/hip OA, and seem to show uncertainty about the effectiveness and safety of physical activity and exercise therapy on joint health.
CONCLUSION: Clinicians' attitudes and beliefs about physical activity and exercise therapy in OA seem to reflect an outdated narrative which describes OA as a wear-and-tear disease with inevitable disease progression to joint replacement surgery. Clinicians need to adopt a contemporary narrative, which accurately reflects current knowledge and evidence-based practice, thereby ensuring consistent utilisation of exercise therapy as first-line care as recommended in OA guidelines.