Editor's Choice - The Effect of Supervision on Walking Distance in Patients with Intermittent Claudication: A Meta-analysis

L.N.M. Gommans, R. Saarloos, M.R.M. Scheltinga, S. Houterman, R.A. de Bie, H.J.P. Fokkenrood, J.A.W. Teijink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: A number of reviews have reported the influence of exercise therapy (ET) for the treatment of intermittent claudication (IC). However, a complete overview of different types of ET is lacking. The aim of this meta-analysis was to study the effect of supervision on walking capacity in patients with IC. It was hypothesized that there was a positive treatment effect in relation to the intensity of supervision and improvement in walking capacity (i.e., a "dose-response" hypothesis). Methods: A systematic search in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, and EMBASE databases was performed. Only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the efficacy of an ET in IC were included. Type of supervision, treadmill protocol, length of ET, total training volume, and change in walking distance were extracted. RCTs were categorised according to type of support: no exercise, walking advice, home-based exercise (HB-ET), and supervised exercise therapy (SET). A standardised mean difference between pre- and post-training maximal walking distance (MWD) and pain-free walking distance (PFWD) was calculated for all subgroups at 6 weeks, and 3 and 6 months of follow up. Results: Thirty studies involving 1406 patients with IC were included. The overall quality was moderate-to-good, although number of included patients varied widely (20-304). The intensity of supervision was directly related to MWD and PFWD. SET was superior to other conservative treatment regimens with respect to improvement in walking distances at all follow-ups. However, the difference between HB-ET and-SET at 6 months of follow up was not significant. Conclusion: Supervised exercise therapy for intermittent claudication is superior to all other forms of exercise therapy. Intensity of supervision is related to improved walking distance. (C) 2014 European Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-184
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Home-based exercise therapy
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Peripheral arterial occlusive disease
  • Supervised exercise therapy

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