Introduction: Kinesiology is a diagnostic, therapeutic complementary therapy utilising subtle change in manual muscle testing results to evaluate the body's energetic balance and select healing modalities. Anecdotal evidence suggests kinesiology is helpful, therefore we wished to critically review the literature.
Aims: (1) To ascertain if diagnostic accuracy including inter-examiner reliability has been established. (2) To review whether there is evidence for its therapeutic effectiveness. (3) To critically assess the quality of relevant studies.
Methods: Electronic databases were searched. Diagnostic accuracy studies were analysed and scored for methodological quality and quality of reporting using the quality assessment tool for studies of diagnostic accuracy included in systematic reviews (QUADAS) and the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Studies (STARD). Clinical studies were analysed for methodological quality using the JADAD scale and for quality of reporting using the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT).
Results: 22 original relevant studies were identified. Their methodology was poor. Items reported on QUADAS scored 1-11 out of a possible 14, STARD scores were between 6-13 out of 25, JADAD scores were all 0 out of 5 and CONSORT 4-6 out of 22. Consequently, we were unable to answer any of our research questions.
Conclusion: There is insufficient evidence for diagnostic accuracy within kinesiology, the validity of muscle response and the effectiveness of kinesiology for any condition. The standards of reporting were low. We recommend a pragmatic study of the effectiveness of kinesiology as the most appropriate initial step to determine whether kinesiology has any clinical value.