Quality of trials in musculoskeletal physiotherapy is suboptimal

An exploration of the methodological quality and completeness of statistical reporting of trials evaluating physiotherapy intervention for musculskeletal conditions has recently been published. A random sample of ~20% of musculoskeletal trials indexed on PEDro were evaluated (n=1,404). We downloaded PEDro scale data, therapy codes plus year and language of publication from PEDro; evaluated each article using 9 items from the CONSORT checklist; and ascertained whether the journal publishing each trial endorsed the CONSORT statement. The mean total PEDro score was 5.3/10 (standard deviation 1.6). There was a slight improvement in the quality of trial reports over time. The characteristics that were associated with a higher total PEDro score were: journal endorsement of the CONSORT statement, reporting the sample size calculation, a lower number of primary outcomes, evaluation of electrotherapy as intervention, if the trial reported the research design in the title, inclusion of a participant flow diagram, trials published more recently, and trials published in English. The quality of the trials in musculoskeletal physiotherapy is suboptimal. Researchers are encouraged to use the CONSORT statement when designing and reporting their trials. Use of the CONSORT statement by journal reviewers and journal editors’ would also improve the quality of trial reports in musculoskeletal physiotherapy.

Zoldan Gonzalez G et al. Quality of musculoskeletal trials: methodological quality and statistical reporting of physical therapy randomized controlled trials relevant to musculoskeletal conditions. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2018;99(1):129-36

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