Patient Perspectives Surrounding Intraarticular Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Qualitative Study

Objective

Intraarticular (IA) injections are used frequently for knee osteoarthritis (OA), but little is known about patients’ attitudes toward these therapies. We aimed to better understand patients’ perceptions of the facilitators of and barriers to IA injections for knee OA.

Methods

We conducted a qualitative, descriptive, exploratory study and held focus groups and individual interviews with participants with knee OA, including some who had and some who had not received IA injections. We conducted a thematic analysis to identify themes describing the factors that participants found influential when deciding whether to try an IA injection.

Results

We held 3 focus groups with 12 participants and conducted 3 individual interviews (15 participants total). We identified the following 4 themes that shaped participants’ decisions to receive a specific injection: 1) the impact of OA on participants’ lives; 2) participants’ attitudes and concerns, including desire to avoid surgery, willingness to accept uncertain outcomes, and concerns about side effects and dependence; 3) the way participants gathered and processed information from physicians, peers, and the internet; and 4) the availability of injectable products. Participants weighed the desire to regain function and delay surgery with concerns about side effects, uncertain efficacy, and costs.

Conclusion

Participants were concerned about the effectiveness, toxicity, availability, and cost of injectable products. They balanced disparate sources of information, uncertain outcomes, limited product availability, and other injection-related concerns with a desire to decrease pain. These findings can provide clinicians, investigators, and public health professionals with insights into challenges that patients face when making injection decisions.