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Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2016 Sep 9;9(3):3-14. eCollection 2016 Sep.

Identifying Inconsistencies and Reporting Deficits in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (TMB) Case Reports Authored by TMB Practitioners: a TMB-Adapted CAse REport (CARE) Guidelines Audit Through 2014.

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Department of Health Sciences, Indiana University-IUPUI, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Indiana School of Medicine, Ruth Lilly Medical Library, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.



Case reports are a fundamental tool through which therapeutic massage and bodywork (TMB) practitioners can inform research and impact their field by detailing the presentation, treatment, and follow-up of a single individual encountered in practice. Inconsistencies in case reporting limit their impact as fundamental sources of clinical evidence. Using the TMB-adapted CAse REport (CARE) guidelines, the current study sought to provide a rich description regarding the reporting quality of TMB practitioner authored TMB case reports in the literature.


1) Systematic identification of published, peer-reviewed TMB case reports authored by TMB practitioners following PRISMA recommendations; 2) audit development based on TMB-adapted CARE guidelines; 3) audit implementation; and 4) descriptive analysis of audit scores.


Our search identified 977 articles and 35 met study inclusion criteria. On average, TMB case reports included approximately 58% of the total items identified as necessary by the TMB-adapted CARE guidelines. Introduction sections of case reports had the best item reporting (80% on average), while Case Presentation (54%) and Results (52%) sections scored moderately overall, with only 20% of necessary Practitioner Description items included on average. Audit scores revealed inconsistent abstract reporting and few audited case reports including client race (20%), perspective (26%), and occupation/activities (40%); practitioner practice setting (12%), training (12%), scope-of-practice (29%), and credentialing (20%); adverse events or lack thereof (17%); and some aspect of informed consent (34%). Treatment descriptor item reporting varied from high to low. Various implications of concern are discussed.


The current audit and descriptive analysis highlight several reporting inconsistencies in TMB case reports prior to 2015. Reporting guidelines for case reports are important if standards for, and impact of, TMB case reports are desired. Adherence to reporting specifications outlined by the TMB-adapted CARE guidelines could improve the impact and usability of TMB case reports in research, education, and practice.


REDCap; adverse events; audit development; informed consent; massage therapy; practitioner author; reporting compliance


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