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Physiother Can. 2013 Spring;65(2):167-75. doi: 10.3138/ptc.2012-11.

Beliefs and practice patterns in spinal manipulation and spinal motion palpation reported by canadian manipulative physiotherapists.

Author information

  • 1Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
  • 2School of Rehabilitation Sciences ; Clinical Research Lab, Hand and Upper Limb Centre, St. Joseph's Health Centre.
  • 3Centre for Evidence Based Medicine; McMaster University, Hamilton.
  • 4School of Physical Therapy.
  • 5School of Physical Therapy ; Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.


in English, French


This practice survey describes how Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT) use spinal manipulation and mobilization and how they perceive their competence in performing spinal assessment; it also quantifies relationships between clinical experience and use of spinal manipulation.


A cross-sectional survey was designed based on input from experts and the literature was administered to a random sample of the FCAMPT mailing list. Descriptive (including frequencies) and inferential statistical analyses (including linear regression) were performed.


The response rate was 82% (278/338 eligible FCAMPTs). Most (99%) used spinal manipulation. Two-thirds (62%) used clinical presentation as a factor when deciding to mobilize or manipulate. The least frequently manipulated spinal region was the cervical spine (2% of patients); 60% felt that cervical manipulation generated more adverse events. Increased experience was associated with increased use of upper cervical manipulation among male respondents (14% more often for every 10 years after certification; β, 95% CI=1.37, 0.89-1.85, p<0.001) but not among female respondents. Confidence in palpation accuracy decreased in lower regions of the spine.


The use of spinal manipulation/mobilization is prevalent among FCAMPTs, but is less commonly used in the neck because of a perceived association with adverse events.


beliefs; palpation; spinal manipulation; utilization

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