Winner, winner – Official 2014/2015 BJSM Systematic Review Awards (Part 1): Weak Hips – The Cause or Result of Unhappy Knees?

By Johann Windt, MS, CSCS, PhD Student

Gold Badge with red ribbon (vector)Systematic reviews are the gold standard for critically appraising clinically-relevant literature. BJSM rewards the authors of the best systematic review(s) published each year. What’s the ‘best’ systematic review? What is good art? To address this challenge we used similar criteria to judge the reviews as in past years.

All systematic reviews published from July 2014 – June 2015 were eligible and were evaluated based on:

  1. Clinical Relevance – How relevant is the topic to BJSM’s readers? Does the review have the potential to influence how clinicians tackle clinical challenges?
  1. PRISMA Adherence – Have the authors careful designed their study and adhered to best practice systematic review methods, following internationally recommended reporting guidelines (PRISMA)?
  1. Intriguing & Informative Introduction – Do the introductions provide an accurate background description while being structurally sound and engaging? ‘Why we did it?’
  1. Descriptive & Detailed Discussion – Did the authors skillfully analyse and interpret their results and synthesize them into a discussion that links both to the 1) study’s objectives and 2) the existing knowledge/literature?
  1. Conclusion Clarity and Conciseness – Are the conclusions:
  • Plausible? Authors should accurately reflect the study findings while considering limitations.
  • Succinct and concrete? Authors should provide a take home message that can be feasibly incorporated into clinical practice.

As a result of the increased quantity and improved quality of SRs submitted to BJSM, we divided this year’s contest into two categories – 1) Prevention/Risk Factor Systematic Reviews, and 2) Intervention Systematic Reviews.

Through the initial iterative process we narrowed the contest to the top 4 reviews in both of these 2 categories. In no particular order, these reviews were:

Risk factor systematic reviews

  • Whittaker et al (2015). Risk Factors for groin injury in sport, an updated systematic review
  • Mosler et. al (2015). Which factors differentiate athletes with hip/groin pain from those without? A systematic review with meta-analysis
  • Rathleff et al (2014) Is hip strength a risk factor for patellofemoral pain? A systematic review and meta-analysis
  • Hamstra-Wright et al. (2015). Risk factors for medial tibial stress syndrome in physically active individuals such as runners and military personnel: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Intervention systematic reviews

  • Sugimoto et al (2014). Specific exercise effects of preventative neuromuscular training intervention on ACL injury risk reduction in young females: meta-analysis and subgroup analysis
  • Hanson et al (2015). Is there evidence that walking groups have health benefits? A systematic review and meta analysis
  • Hegedus et al (2015). Clinician friendly lower extremity performance measures in athletes: a systematic review of measurement properties and correlation with injury, Part 1, and Part 2.
  • Weston et al (2014). High-intensity interval training in patients with lifestyle-induced cardiometabolic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Finally, two independent reviewers then very carefully assessed these papers using the PRISMA reporting checklist to evaluate the study design and reporting, then compared their assessments to determine this year’s winning reviews.

The winner for the best risk factor-based review of 2014-2015 is:

Rathleff et al (2014). Is hip strength a risk factor for patellofemoral pain? A systematic review and meta-analysis. 48:1088

Dr. Michael Rathleff and his colleagues reviewed the relationship between hip strength and patellofemoral pain (PFP). Most notably, the authors contribute to the field by identifying a discrepancy between prospective and cross-sectional research findings – while cross-sectional studies identify reduced hip strength in PFP, prospective investigations fail to find any association. Even though both men and women with PFP possess hip strength deficits, these deficits appears to be a result, not cause, of their patellofemoral pain. The authors note that these findings come from a small number of heterogeneous trials, but identify this as a key area for future investigation in the attempt to better understand how patellofemoral pain and hip strength are related.

We congratulate Dr. Rathleff and coauthors. Furthermore, congratulations to all authors who had systematic reviews published in BJSM, which receives over 100 submissions per month!

Stay tuned for the upcoming announcement of the best intervention-based review!

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