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Is the quality of systematic reviews influenced by prospective registration: a methods review of systematic musculoskeletal physical therapy reviews.

INTRODUCTION: It is unknown if verified prospective registration of systematic reviews (SRs) and the randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that they use affect an SR's methodological quality on A MeaSurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews 2 (AMSTAR 2).

METHODS: Data originated from interventional SRs published in International Society of Physiotherapy Journals Editors (ISPJE) member journals, indexed in MEDLINE, between 1 January 2018 and 18 August 2021. Blinded reviewers identified the SRs and extracted the data for the variables of interest for the SRs and the RCTs.

RESULTS: Two of 14 ISPJE member journals required prospective SR registration. Twenty SRs were identified, and 169 unique, retrievable RCTs were included within those SRs. One (5.0%) of the 20 SRs and 15 of the 169 (8.9%) RCTs were prospectively registered and published consistent with this intent. Nineteen (95.0%) of the 20 identified SRs was categorized as 'critically low' on the AMSTAR 2.

DISCUSSION: SRs and the RCTs identified within them were infrequently prospectively registered, prospectively verifiable, or prospectively verified based on the established research record.

CONCLUSIONS: Ensuring that SRs and RCTs have fidelity with the research record from conception to publication may help rule out low-value interventions, decrease variability in physical therapy practice, and solidify evidence-based physical therapy practice.

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