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Phys Ther. 2010 Nov;90(11):1631-40. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20090419. Epub 2010 Aug 19.

Core journals that publish clinical trials of physical therapy interventions.

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Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for International Health, PO Box M201, Missenden Rd, Sydney, New South Wales 2050, Australia.



The objective of this study was to identify core journals in physical therapy by identifying those that publish the most randomized controlled trials of physical therapy interventions, provide the highest-quality reports of randomized controlled trials, and have the highest journal impact factors.


This study was an audit of a bibliographic database.


All trials indexed in the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) were analyzed. Journals that had published at least 80 trials were selected. The journals were ranked in 4 ways: number of trials published; mean total PEDro score of the trials published in the journal, regardless of publication year; mean total PEDro score of the trials published in the journal from 2000 to 2009; and 2008 journal impact factor.


The top 5 core journals in physical therapy, ranked by the total number of trials published, were Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Clinical Rehabilitation, Spine, British Medical Journal (BMJ), and Chest. When the mean total PEDro score was used as the ranking criterion, the top 5 journals were Journal of Physiotherapy, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Stroke, Spine, and Clinical Rehabilitation. When the mean total PEDro score of the trials published from 2000 to 2009 was used as the ranking criterion, the top 5 journals were Journal of Physiotherapy, JAMA, Lancet, BMJ, and Pain. The most highly ranked physical therapy-specific journals were Physical Therapy (ranked eighth on the basis of the number of trials published) and Journal of Physiotherapy (ranked first on the basis of the quality of trials). Finally, when the 2008 impact factor was used for ranking, the top 5 journals were JAMA, Lancet, BMJ, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and Thorax. There were no significant relationships among the rankings on the basis of trial quality, number of trials, or journal impact factor.


Physical therapists who are trying to keep up-to-date by reading the best available evidence on the effects of physical therapy interventions have to read more broadly than just physical therapy-specific journals. Readers of articles on physical therapy trials should be aware that high-quality trials are not necessarily published in journals with high impact factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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