There are varying levels of consumer understanding about diagnosis and treatment options for osteoarthritic knee pain. In Australia, patient expectations around the outcomes of surgery remain high and, in general, tend to underestimate potential harm.

The Commission’s Knee Pain Expert Advisory Group identifies and addresses unwarranted variation in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Knee osteoarthritis is the most common indication for knee surgery.

The group was formed in response to a growing concern around the inappropriate rates of knee surgery in Australia, as highlighted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Recent data investigations through the OECD Health Care Variation study and the Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation demonstrated substantial variation in rates of both knee replacement and knee arthroscopy procedures around Australia.

The Knee Pain Expert Advisory Group has developed a number of approaches to identify and address unwarranted variation in knee surgery. These target clinician, consumer and system-level strategies.

The Commission has developed a consumer-targeted documentary focussing on appropriate care in managing knee osteoarthritis. This documentary features clinical members of the Knee Pain Expert Advisory Group and patient stories around managing osteoarthritic knee pain. It aired on ABC 24 on 20 February 2016. The full feature length documentary is available on Tonic TV.

For more information about the Knee Pain Expert Advisory Group and the Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation, please contact the Commission.

In 2012–13, there were 33,682 knee arthroscopy admissions to hospital for people aged 55 years and over. The number of admissions was 7.1 times higher in the area with the highest rate compared to the area with the lowest rate.