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Vol. 23. Issue 5.
Pages 448-457 (01 September 2019)
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Vol. 23. Issue 5.
Pages 448-457 (01 September 2019)
Original Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.09.002
Description of low back pain clinical trials in physical therapy: a cross sectional study
Dafne Port Nascimento
Corresponding author

Corresponding author at: Masters and Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de São Paulo, Rua Cesário Galeno 448, Tatuapé, CEP 03071-000, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
, Gabrielle Zoldan Gonzalez, Amanda Costa Araujo, Leonardo Oliveira Pena Costa
Masters and Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de São Paulo (UNICID), São Paulo, SP, Brazil

  • Low back pain trials are published in a variety of healthcare journals.

  • The methodological quality of low back pain trials is moderate.

  • 55.5% of low back pain trials endorsed the CONSORT statement recommendations.

  • Reporting guidelines should be strictly followed.

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Figures (1)
Tables (3)
Table 1. Descriptive data of the total sample (n=200) with mean (standard deviation) and the frequency (percentage) of articles.
Table 2. Frequency (percentage) of the primary outcomes, interventions and comparators presented in the total sample (n=200).
Table 3. Descriptive data of 200 trials published in 97 journals. Journals categorized into Impact Factor higher and lower than 2.0, and journals without Impact Factor. Ranking of journals is presented from higher to lower Impact factors (70 journals).
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To describe the main characteristics of low back pain randomized controlled trials on the Physiotherapy Evidence Database, and to rank the journals where these trials were published according to their Impact Factor.


This is a cross sectional study based on a collection of randomized controlled trials. A random sample of 200 low back pain trials published between 2010 and 2015 were selected from Physiotherapy Evidence Database in February 2016. We collected the following main characteristics of trials: 2015 journal Impact Factor; if the paper was published as open access; CONSORT recommendations endorsement by the journal; methodological quality and statistical reporting measured by the 0–10 items Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale. Data was analyzed descriptively.


Trials were published in journals with a mean Impact Factor of 2.5 (SD 2.5), from which 55.5% endorsed the CONSORT recommendations. The methodological quality was moderate with 5.8 points (SD 1.6). The top 3 journals according to Impact Factor were: (1) British Medical Journal; (2) Annals of Internal Medicine; and (3) BMC Medicine. Only 6 out of 97 journals publishing low back pain trials combined the following factors: journal Impact Factor higher than 2.0, mean trial methodological quality higher than 6.0 points, endorse CONSORT recommendations and offering papers as open access.


Clinicians interested in low back pain trials must look for a wide variety of healthcare journals. A substantial number of low back pain randomized controlled trials did not follow adequate reporting and methodological recommendations.

Numerical data
Research design
Randomized controlled trials
Low back pain


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