Systematic review| Volume 101, ISSUE 7, P1233-1242, July 2020

Shoulder Rotator Cuff Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Practice Guidelines and Semantic Analyses of Recommendations

Published:January 30, 2020DOI:



      To perform a systematic review of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) and semantic analysis of specific clinical recommendations for the management of rotator cuff disorders in adults.

      Data Sources

      A systematic bibliographic search was conducted up until May 2018 in Medline, Embase, and Physiotherapy Evidence Database, or PEDro, databases, in addition to 12 clinical guidelines search engines listed on the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) website.

      Study Selection

      Nine CPGs on the management of rotator cuff disorders in adults or workers, available in English or French, and published from January 2008 onward, were included and screened by 2 independent reviewers.

      Data Extraction

      CPG methodology was assessed with the AGREE II checklist. A semantic analysis was performed to compare the strength of similar recommendations based on their formulation. The recommendations were categorized in a standardized manner considering the following 4 levels: “essential,” “recommended,” “may be recommended,” and “not recommended.”

      Data Synthesis

      Methodological quality was considered high for 3 CPGs and low for 6. All CPGs recommended active treatment modalities, such as an exercise program in the management of rotator cuff disorders. Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug prescriptions and corticosteroid injections were presented as modalities that may be recommended to decrease pain. Recommendations related to medical imagery and surgical opinion varied among the guidelines. The most commonly recommended return-to-work strategies included intervening early, use of a multidisciplinary approach, and adaptation of work organization.


      Only 3 CPGs were of high quality. The development of more rigorous CPGs is warranted.


      List of abbreviations:

      AGREE (Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation), CPG (clinical practice guidelines), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), RC (rotator cuff), RTW (return to work)
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