A survey of patient’s perceptions of what is “adverse” in manual physiotherapy and predicting who is likely to say so.

The authors conducted this study in order to describe the patient perspective regarding the identification and occurrence of adverse responses related to manual therapy. A secondary objective evaluated predictors of the incidence rate of adverse responses identified by patients receiving manual physiotherapy. A cross-sectional survey of individuals receiving manual physiotherapy recruited by physiotherapists in Canada was conducted. Their survey included questions about the symptoms patients identified as adverse, causal associations with treatment, and the impact of contextual factors. Descriptive statistics are reported, and Poisson modeling predicted factors associated with identification of adverse responses. They produced a response rate of 76.2% (324 of 425). Presenting with lumbar spine dysfunction was a significant predictor of all adverse responses (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.513 [1.025, 2.235], P = 0.037) and was associated with 51% greater identification of adverse responses compared with those with an extremity disorder. Expectation of soreness was “protective” against identifying major adverse responses (IRR [95% CI] = 0.915 [0.838, 0.999], P = 0.047); they had an 8.5% lower rate of identifying major adverse responses relative to those without this expectation.


The authors concluded that patient perspective is a significant consideration if a comprehensive framework for defining negative responses in manual therapies is to be developed.