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Supervised exercise therapy (SET) is a first-line treatment for patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). The efficacy of SET is most commonly expressed by significant statistical improvement of parameters that do not clarify how each individual patient will benefit from SET. This study examined the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in walking speed in claudicating patients with PAD after SET.


A total of 63 patients with PAD-related claudication (Fontaine stage II PAD) participated in a 6-month SET program. Self-selected walking speed was measured before and after SET. Distribution and anchor-based approaches were used to estimate the MCID for small and substantial improvement. The ability to walk one block and the ability to climb one flight of stairs questions were chosen as anchor questions from the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form questionnaire. Receiver operating characteristics curve analyses were performed to detect the threshold for MCID in walking speed after treatment.


The distribution-based method estimated 0.03 m/s as a small improvement and 0.08 m/s as a substantial improvement after SET. Small and substantial improvements according to the anchor question walking one block were 0.05 m/s and 0.15 m/s, respectively. For the climbing one flight of stairs anchor question, 0.10 m/s was a small improvement. Receiver operating characteristics curve analyses identified an increase of 0.04 m/s and 0.03 m/s for improvement based on walking one block and climbing one flight of stairs, respectively.


We report our findings for the MCID for walking speed among claudicating patients receiving SET. Claudicating patients who increase walking speed of 0.03 m/s or greater are more likely to experience a meaningful improvement in walking impairment than those who do not. The MCID reported in this study can serve as a benchmark for clinicians to develop goals and interpret clinically meaningful progress in the care of claudicating patients with PAD.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Journal of Vascular Surgery on November 19, 2021, available online:

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Journal of Vascular Surgery





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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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