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15 years of tracking physiotherapy evidence on PEDro, where are we now?

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Background

Healthcare systems across the globe have begun the transition to evidence-based practice. The degree to which the transition has occurred can be debated but, it is underpinned by a large and rapidly growing volume of research. However, this research is only useful if it is reliable, comprehensive and accessible.

The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro; http://www.pedro.org.au) recently celebrated 15 years of existence. PEDro is a free resource that indexes published randomised controlled trials (RCT), systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines relevant to physiotherapy. The first physiotherapy RCT was published in 1929 and the first physiotherapy systematic review in 1982. Since then there has been exponential growth in the number of published RCTs and systematic reviews relevant to physiotherapy (figure 1). This editorial reflects on what PEDro tells us about the evidence base for physiotherapy and sports physiotherapy in particular.

Figure 1

Growth in the number of published randomised controlled trials (RCTs), reviews and guidelines indexed on PEDro.

Growth in RCTs, reviews and guidelines

As of October 2014, PEDro indexes 23 049 RCTs, 5039 systematic reviews and 512 clinical practice guidelines. The largest number of studies are in the musculoskeletal subdiscipline (7676), followed by cardiothoracics (5334) and gerontology (4105). This volume of studies and the ongoing increase in rate of publication points to a substantial commitment to physiotherapy research.

There are 1325 sports physiotherapy studies (1098 RCTs, 222 systematic reviews and 5 practice guidelines); this is the second lowest of the 10 subdisciplines. The low number of studies is surprising given the high profile of sports physiotherapy. The rate of publications …

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