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Effectiveness and optimal dosage of resistance training for chronic non-specific neck pain: a protocol for a systematic review with a qualitative synthesis and meta-analysis

09 Feb 2019


The prevalence of neck pain is increasing rapidly with a high percentage of patients going on to experience recurrent or chronic symptoms. The resulting pain and disability are commonly managed using a variety of treatments including exercise. Resistance training exercise aimed at the neck and shoulders is advocated to treat chronic non-specific neck pain (CNSNP), however the dosage of prescribed exercise varies considerably between studies. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of resistance training in CNSNP and to determine an optimal dosage that should be prescribed in clinical practice.

Methods and analysis

A systematic review with qualitative synthesis and meta-analysis will be conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocols. Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Excerpta Medica Database, Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online, PEDro, Zetoc, Index to Chiropractic Literature ChiroAcces, PubMed, grey literature sources and key journals will be searched. Randomised clinical trials investigating resistance training exercise in adults with CNSNP using outcome measures of pain and/or disability will be eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers will independently screen for eligibility, extract data and assess risk of bias (Cochrane risk of bias tool) with a third reviewer mediating in cases of disagreement. Data will be synthesised qualitatively to investigate intervention effectiveness and to determine the effect of exercise dosage on pain and disability. Meta-analysis using a random-effects model will be conducted where sufficient clinical homogeneity exists. The strength of the overall body of evidence will be assessed and reported using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation.

Ethics and dissemination

This study raises no ethical issues. Results will inform exercise prescription to improve management of CNSNP. Results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and presented at conferences.

PROSPERO registration number


Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open