Objective: Our purpose was to review the biomedical literature from January 2004 to June 2007 inclusive to determine the extent of new evidence related to the therapeutic application of manipulation for pediatric health conditions. This updates a previous systematic review published in 2005. No critical appraisal of the evidence is undertaken.
Data sources: We searched both the indexed and non-indexed biomedical manual therapy literature. This included PubMed, MANTIS, CINAHL, ICL, as well as reference tracking. Other resources included the Cochrane Library, CCOHTA, PEDro, WHO ICTRP, AMED, EMBASE and AHRQ databases, as well as research conferences and symposium proceedings.
Results: The search identified 1275 citations of which 57 discrete citations met the eligibility criteria determined by three reviewers who then determined by consensus, each citation's appropriate level on the strength of evidence scale. The new evidence from the relevant time period was 1 systematic review, 1 RCT, 2 observational studies, 36 descriptive case studies and 17 conference abstracts. When this additional evidence is combined with the previous systematic review undertaken up to 2003, there are now in total, 2 systematic reviews, 10 RCT's, 3 observational studies, 177 descriptive studies, and 31 conference abstracts defining this body of knowledge.
Summary: There has been no substantive shift in this body of knowledge during the past 3 1/2 years. The health claims made by chiropractors with respect to the application of manipulation as a health care intervention for pediatric health conditions continue to be supported by only low levels of scientific evidence. Chiropractors continue to treat a wide variety of pediatric health conditions. The evidence rests primarily with clinical experience, descriptive case studies and very few observational and experimental studies. The health interests of pediatric patients would be advanced if more rigorous scientific inquiry was undertaken to examine the value of manipulative therapy in the treatment of pediatric conditions.