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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2013 Dec 3;14:339.
doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-14-339.

The Intra- And Inter-Rater Reliability of Five Clinical Muscle Performance Tests in Patients With and Without Neck Pain

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Free PMC article
Randomized Controlled Trial

The Intra- And Inter-Rater Reliability of Five Clinical Muscle Performance Tests in Patients With and Without Neck Pain

Tina Juul et al. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: This study investigates the reliability of muscle performance tests using cost- and time-effective methods similar to those used in clinical practice. When conducting reliability studies, great effort goes into standardising test procedures to facilitate a stable outcome. Therefore, several test trials are often performed. However, when muscle performance tests are applied in the clinical setting, clinicians often only conduct a muscle performance test once as repeated testing may produce fatigue and pain, thus variation in test results. We aimed to investigate whether cervical muscle performance tests, which have shown promising psychometric properties, would remain reliable when examined under conditions similar to those of daily clinical practice.

Methods: The intra-rater (between-day) and inter-rater (within-day) reliability was assessed for five cervical muscle performance tests in patients with (n = 33) and without neck pain (n = 30). The five tests were joint position error, the cranio-cervical flexion test, the neck flexor muscle endurance test performed in supine and in a 45°-upright position and a new neck extensor test.

Results: Intra-rater reliability ranged from moderate to almost perfect agreement for joint position error (ICC ≥ 0.48-0.82), the cranio-cervical flexion test (ICC ≥ 0.69), the neck flexor muscle endurance test performed in supine (ICC ≥ 0.68) and in a 45°-upright position (ICC ≥ 0.41) with the exception of a new test (neck extensor test), which ranged from slight to moderate agreement (ICC = 0.14-0.41). Likewise, inter-rater reliability ranged from moderate to almost perfect agreement for joint position error (ICC ≥ 0.51-0.75), the cranio-cervical flexion test (ICC ≥ 0.85), the neck flexor muscle endurance test performed in supine (ICC ≥ 0.70) and in a 45°-upright position (ICC ≥ 0.56). However, only slight to fair agreement was found for the neck extensor test (ICC = 0.19-0.25).

Conclusions: Intra- and inter-rater reliability ranged from moderate to almost perfect agreement with the exception of a new test (neck extensor test), which ranged from slight to moderate agreement. The significant variability observed suggests that tests like the neck extensor test and the neck flexor muscle endurance test performed in a 45°-upright position are too unstable to be used when evaluating neck muscle performance.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Start position for the joint position sense test.
Figure 2
Figure 2
The cranio-cervical flexion test.
Figure 3
Figure 3
The neck muscle endurance test performed in supine.
Figure 4
Figure 4
The neck muscle endurance test performed in 45°-upright position (A) and (B).
Figure 5
Figure 5
The neck extensor test.

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