Exercise programs may be effective in preventing a new episode of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Tarcisio F. de Campos, Christopher Maher, Daniel Steffens, Joel Fuller, Mark Hancock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


Question: What is the effectiveness of interventions that aim to prevent a new episode of neck pain?
Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised, controlled trials.
Participants: People without neck pain at study entry.
Intervention: Any intervention aiming to prevent a future episode of neck pain.
Outcome measures: New episode of neck pain.
Results: Five trials including a total of 3852 individuals met the inclusion criteria. The pooled results from two randomised, controlled trials (500 participants) found moderate-quality evidence that exercise reduces the risk of a new episode of neck pain (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.86). One of the meta-analysed trials included some co-interventions with the exercise. There was low-quality evidence from three randomised, controlled trials (3352 participants) that ergonomic programs do not reduce the risk of a new neck pain episode (OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.35).
Conclusion: This review found moderate-quality evidence supporting the effectiveness of an exercise program for reducing the risk of a new episode of neck pain. There is a need for high-quality randomised, controlled trials evaluating interventions to prevent new episodes of neck pain.
Registration: PROSPERO CRD42017055174.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-165
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physiotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 Australian Physiotherapy Association. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • neck pain
  • prevention
  • randomised controlled trial
  • systematic review
  • meta-analysis

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