To evaluate whether low knee confidence at baseline is associated with poor baseline-to-3-year physical function outcome in the Osteoarthritis Initiative.


Knee confidence was assessed using an item from the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score instrument. Physical function was assessed using self-report measures (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index [WOMAC] function score and Short Form 12 physical component scale) and performance-based measures (20-meter walk and chair stand test). Poor function outcome was defined as moving into a worse function group or remaining in the 2 worst function groups between baseline and 3 years. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the relationship between baseline knee confidence level and poor baseline-to-3-year function outcome, adjusting for potential confounders.


The sample included 3,975 men and women with or at high risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee, of whom 37–53% had poor baseline-to-3-year function outcome. For both self-report measures, increasingly worse knee confidence was associated with a greater risk of poor function outcome, and trend tests supported a graded response (e.g., the adjusted odds ratios [95% confidence intervals] for the WOMAC function score for worsening confidence categories were 1.26 [1.07–1.49], 1.43 [1.16–1.77], and 2.05 [1.49–2.82], P for trend <0.0001). Similar associations between confidence and performance-based function outcome were observed, but statistical significance did not persist in adjusted analyses. Factors independently associated with poor function outcome for all 4 outcome measures were depressive symptoms, comorbidity, body mass index, and joint space narrowing.


These findings indicate that worse knee confidence at baseline is independently associated with greater risk of poor function outcome by self-report measures, with evidence of a graded response; the relationship with performance measures is not significant in fully adjusted models.