METHODS: CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, the Physiotherapy Evidence Database, the Cochrane Controlled Trials register, reference list searching, and citation tracking were investigated. Ten randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of mobilization and manipulation for nonspecific low back pain (NSLBP) met the inclusion criteria. The effectiveness of manual therapy with and without clinician technique choice was assessed using descriptive statistics and metaanalysis for the outcomes of pain and activity limitation.
RESULTS: In approximately two thirds of the included RCTs, clinicians had choice of treatment technique. There were no systematic differences favoring results for RCTs that did allow clinician choice of treatment technique.
CONCLUSIONS: Few quality studies are available, and conclusions on the basis of these data need to be interpreted with caution. However, allowing clinicians to choose from a number of treatment techniques does not appear to have improved the outcomes of these RCTs that have investigated the effect of manual therapy for NSLBP. If tailoring manual therapy treatment to NSLBP patients does positively impact on patient outcomes, this is not yet systematically apparent.
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