Finding consensus on the physiotherapy management of asymptomatic infants with cystic fibrosis

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2008 Mar;43(3):236-44. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20741.


Background: Babies with cystic fibrosis diagnosed by neonatal screening often display no overt signs of respiratory disease. The role of traditional routine daily chest physiotherapy in this particular group of babies is unclear and has generated considerable international debate. There is currently no evidence addressing this issue and present circumstances preclude a rigorous trial in the UK. This study aimed to provide expert consensus regarding the physiotherapy management of asymptomatic infants with CF.

Method: A Delphi consensus method was used to gather and refine expert opinions of senior paediatric physiotherapists in the UK. Agreement was sought on 16 statements reflecting aspects of physiotherapy management in 'asymptomatic' babies with cystic fibrosis.

Results: Twenty-five senior paediatric physiotherapists from Specialist CF Centres throughout the UK participated in the study. Consensus was high amongst the respondents for 15 of the 16 statements. One statement failed to reach consensus. This related to the question of not routinely initiating a daily chest physiotherapy regimen in apparently healthy babies. Due to the lack of consensus an amendment to this statement was made, to allow a more flexible approach, where physiotherapists would not be obliged to initiate routine daily treatment in asymptomatic babies with CF, if they felt other another approach was justified.

Conclusion: There was high consensus of opinion amongst senior physiotherapists in the UK on most aspects of the physiotherapy management of babies with CF. Consensus could not be achieved on whether routine daily chest physiotherapy is necessary in 'asymptomatic' babies. An agreed amendment to the original statement allows professionals to modify or change traditional practice with the sanction of their senior colleagues. The results of this process will be used by the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Cystic Fibrosis to form the basis of national clinical guidelines.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods*