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Phys Ther. 2001 Oct;81(10):1719-30.

Philadelphia Panel evidence-based clinical practice guidelines on selected rehabilitation interventions for shoulder pain.



A structured and rigorous methodology was developed for the formulation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (EBCPGs), then was used to develop EBCPGs for selected rehabilitation interventions for the management of shoulder pain.


Evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies was identified and synthesized using methods defined by the Cochrane Collaboration that minimize bias by using a systematic approach to literature search, study selection, data extraction, and data synthesis. Meta-analysis was conducted where possible. The strength of evidence was graded as level I for RCTs or level II for nonrandomized studies.


An expert panel was formed by inviting stakeholder professional organizations to nominate a representative. This panel developed a set of criteria for grading the strength of both the evidence and the recommendation. The panel decided that evidence of clinically important benefit (defined as 15% greater relative to a control based on panel expertise and empiric results) in patient-important outcomes was required for a recommendation. Statistical significance was also required but was insufficient alone. Patient-important outcomes were decided by consensus as being pain, function, patient global assessment, quality of life, and return to work, providing that these outcomes were assessed with a scale for which measurement reliability and validity have been established.


A feedback survey questionnaire was sent to 324 practitioners from 6 professional organizations. The response rate was 51%.


Only 1 positive recommendation of clinical benefit was developed. Ultrasound provided clinically important pain relief relative to a control for patients with calcific tendinitis in the short term (less than 2 months). There was good agreement with this recommendation from practitioners (75%). For several interventions and indications (eg, thermotherapy, therapeutic exercise, massage, electrical stimulation, mechanical traction), there was a lack of evidence regarding efficacy.


This methodology of developing EBCPGs provides a structured approach to assessing the literature and developing EBCPGs that incorporates clinicians' feedback and is widely acceptable to practicing clinicians. Further well-designed RCTs are warranted regarding the use of several interventions for patients with shoulder pain where evidence was insufficient to make recommendations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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