A pilot single-blind parallel randomised controlled trial comparing kinesiology tape to compression in the management of subacute hand oedema after trauma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Hand oedema is a common consequence of hand trauma or surgery. There are numerous methods to reduce hand oedema but lack high-quality evidence to support best practice. The primary objective of this pilot trial was to assess study feasibility when comparing treatments for subacute hand oedema after trauma.

Methods: A parallel two-arm pilot randomised controlled trial was conducted in the hand therapy department at a regional hospital in Norfolk between October 2017 and July 2018. Patients were eligible if 18 years or over, referred to hand therapy with subacute hand oedema. Randomisation was on a 1:1 basis to treatment as usual (TAU) (compression, elevation and massage) or trial treatment (TT) (kinesiology tape, elevation and massage). One blinded assessor completed all assessments (prior to randomisation, 4 and 12 weeks later). Data on study feasibility, adherence and acceptability of treatments were collected. The primary outcome measure was hand volume (volumetry). Patient-rated severity (0–5 Likert scale), hand health profile of the Patient Evaluation Measure (PEM) and quality of life (EQ-5D-5L) were also recorded.

Results: Forty-five patients were screened for eligibility and 26 consented and were randomised with 13 patients in each treatment arm. Twelve participants were lost to follow-up leaving 7 participants in each group included in the analysis. Assessor blinding was maintained in 64% of participants (9/14). Total mean acceptability scores, out of 100, were higher for TAU (87.9) than TT (76.1). Health resource use results showed TT was marginally cheaper (~£2 per patient) than TAU.

Individual adherence ranged between 39 and 100%, with higher levels of overall adherence seen in the TAU group. Four participants (28%) reported adverse effects (TT group n = 3, TAU group n = 1).

Conclusion: This pilot trial has identified that modifications are required in order to make a full-scale trial feasible. They include a formal assessment of treatment fidelity, research staff assisting with screening and recruitment of participants and multiple blinded assessors at each study site. Whilst not designed as an efficacy trial, it should be acknowledged that the small sample size and high loss to follow-up meant very small numbers were included in the final analysis resulting in wide confidence intervals and therefore low precision in parameter estimates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2022


  • Adherence
  • Compression
  • Feasibility
  • Hand
  • Kinesiology tape
  • Oedema
  • Pilot
  • Randomisation
  • Trial

Cite this