Predictive factors for reporting adverse events following spinal manipulation in randomized clinical trials

While spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is recommended for the treatment of spinal disorders, concerns exist about adverse events associated with the intervention. Adequate reporting of adverse events in clinical trials would allow for more accurate estimations of incidence statistics through meta-analysis. However, it is not currently known if there are factors influencing adverse events reporting following SMT in randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Thus the objective was to investigate predictive factors for the reporting of adverse events in published RCTs involving SMT.

The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were searched for RCTs involving SMT. Domains of interest included: sample size; publication date relative to the 2010 CONSORT statement; risk of bias; the region treated; and number of intervention sessions. 7398 records were identified, of which 368 articles were eligible for inclusion.

A total of 140 (38.0%) articles reported on adverse events. Articles were more likely to report on adverse events if they possessed larger sample sizes, were published after the 2010 CONSORT statement, had a low risk of bias and involved multiple intervention sessions. The region treated was not a significant predictor for reporting on adverse events. Predictors for reporting on adverse events included larger sample size, publication after the 2010 CONSORT statement, low risk of bias and trials involving multiple intervention sessions. The authors recommend that researchers focus on developing robust methodologies and participant follow-up regimens for RCTs involving SMT.