DESIGN: A repeated measures designs was used.
SETTING: Department of Nuclear Medicine, Odense University Hospital, Denmark.
PARTICIPANTS: Two experienced chiropractors examined 29 patients and 27 subjects in the interobserver part, and 1 of the 2 chiropractors examined 14 patients and 15 subjects in the intraobserver studies.
INTERVENTION: Palpation for muscular tenderness was done in 14 predetermined areas of the anterior chest wall with all subjects sitting. Each dimension was rated as absent or present for tenderness or pain for each location. All examinations were carried out according to a standard written procedure.
RESULTS: Based on a pooled analysis of data from palpation of the anterior chest wall, we found kappa values of 0.22 to 0.31 for the interobserver reliability. For the intraobserver reliability, we found kappa values of 0.21 to 0.28 for the day-to-day reliability and 0.44 to 0.49 for the hour-to-hour reliability.
CONCLUSION: Our results indicated great variations between experienced chiropractors palpating for intercostal tenderness or tenderness in the minor and major pectoral muscles in a population of patients with and without chest pain. This may hamper the ability of clinicians to diagnose and classify the musculoskeletal component of chest pain if based exclusively on palpation of the anterior chest wall.
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