A systematic review assessing non-pharmacological conservative treatment studies for people with non-inflammatory multi-joint pain: clinical outcomes and research design considerations

Christine Comer, Toby Smith, Ben Drew, Rafi Raja, Sarah Kingsbury, Philip Conaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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To systematically review the evidence to determine the clinical outcomes and the important methodological quality features of interventional studies on adults with non-inflammatory multi-joint pain (MJP). Systematic search of published and unpublished literature using the databases: AMED, CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, psycINFO, SPORTDiscus, PEDro, OpenGrey, the EU Clinical Trials Register, World Health Organization International Clinical Trial Registry Platform, ClinicalTrials.gov and the ISRCTN registry (search: inception to 19th October 2017). All papers reporting the clinical outcomes of non-pharmacological interventions for people with non-inflammatory MJP were included. Studies were critically appraised using the Downs and Black Critical Appraisal and the TIDieR reporting checklists. Data were analysed using a Best Evidence Synthesis approach. From 3824 citations, four papers satisfied the eligibility criteria. Three studies reported outcomes from multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes and one study reported the findings of a spa therapy intervention. All interventions significantly improved pain, function and quality of life in the short-term. There was limited reporting of measures for absenteeism, presenteeism and psychosocial outcomes. The evidence was ‘weak’, and due to a lack of controlled trials, there is limited evidence to ascertain treatment effectiveness. Design consideration for future trials surround improved reporting of participant characteristics, interventions and the standardisation of core outcome measures. There is insufficient high-quality trial data to determine the effectiveness of treatments for non-inflammatory MJP. Given the significant health burden which this condition presents on both individuals and wider society, developing and testing interventions and accurately reporting these, should be a research priority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331–341
Number of pages11
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number3
Early online date16 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Therapeutics
  • Clinical Trials
  • Research Design

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