A Review of PEDro Physiotherapy Evidence Database
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Lauren Fletcher, MLIS, MA
Assistant Professor/Research & Instruction Librarian
Rowland Medical Library
University of Mississippi Medical Center

Content

PEDro Physiotherapy Evidence Database (https://pedro.org.au) is a free citation and abstract database focused on providing access to systematic reviews, clinical practice guidelines, and independently scored clinical trials in the field of physiotherapy. Users can search the PEDro interface to find collated, quality evidence-based research initially indexed in the top health sciences databases and across the web. Originally based on the Cochrane Database of Rehabilitation Randomized Trials, PEDro has grown to include over 47,000 new titles from steering committee personal databases, automated searches in Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO, Cochrane Systematic Reviews, Cochrane CENTRAL Register of Controlled Trials, internet searches for practice guidelines, and by tracking citations of included systematic reviews (1). Content in PEDro is updated monthly, typically on the first Monday of each calendar month.

Features/Functionality

PEDro has three search functions: simple, advanced, and consumer. The simple search feature is comprised of a single search box for keyword text entry that searches title, abstract, and indexing terms. The advanced search provides users with additional text searching options for abstract/title, title only, author(s), and source. PEDro specific search options are available as dropdown menus for users to select therapy type, problem, body part, subdiscipline, topic, and method. PEDro automatically combines all search terms with AND. There is an option to OR all search terms at the bottom of the advanced search page, but it does not support combination Boolean searches (2). This feature limits the functionality of PEDro searches that must be remedied with the use of truncation (*) and wildcards (@); therefore, learning how to expertly search PEDro can be challenging. PEDro does provide users with an in-depth search help section, which provides detailed “how-to” videos on simple and advanced searching, the benefits of PICO searching, and how to optimize your PEDro search.

The consumer search is geared toward patients, caregivers, and those wanting to learn more about physiotherapy as a whole. This search function provides three main dropdown menus focused on the patient’s health problem, symptoms, and treatment goals. Users can further select a general body region outlined on a model. Alternately, users can input specific terms related to their problem, symptom, treatment, or body region.

Search results for the simple and advanced searching are presented on an easy-to-read search results page. The top of the page contains a menu that allows users to return home, display selected records, continue their simple or advanced search, start a new search, or jump to search help. Results are organized with practice guidelines displayed first, clinical guidelines by score, and then systematic reviews by year. Results are displayed with the title, method, score (where applicable), and selection option. Users can view individual records by selecting the title or view multiple records by clicking “select,” which will collate selections together and can be viewed by selecting the “display selected records” option from the top menu. PEDro does not provide any additional filters other than those selected by users in advanced search. The results view provides users with the title, author(s), publication information, method, score (where applicable), and the complete abstract. Links to full text are available at the bottom of the page with hyperlinks to PubMed Central (where applicable), DOI, PubMed, and the publisher.

Search results for the consumer search are similar to the simple and advanced search, but only provide the title and select option. Consumer results view provides the same information as the simple and advanced, but many include consumer summaries, which provide easy-to-read, plain language summaries of the research or practice guidelines.

All clinical trials within PEDro are graded on the PEDro Scale (3), a checklist rating system that focuses on “internal validity” and if the trial contains “sufficient statistical information to make it interpretable” (1). The PEDro scale does not rate meaningfulness or external validity. The PEDro scale is based off of the Delphi List (1) created by Verhagen et al. with two additional items added to asses follow-up and group statistical comparisons. Scores are calculated by counting the number of checklist criteria met. Each clinical trial is assessed by trained staff members at the Center for Evidenced-Based Physiotherapy and by volunteer physiotherapists. Each trial is assessed a minimum of two times, with a third rater brought in to resolve disputes (1). Periodically, informal, non-systematic checks of the rating quality are performed and PEDro has recently instituted a mechanism for users to dispute trial ratings. 

Business Model

PEDro is a free database created and supported by PEDro Partnership, a nonprofit organization that facilitates and champions physiotherapy research. The PEDro Partnership is based at the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and hosted by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). PEDro is managed by a steering committee of five directors consisting of professors and associate professors at NeuRA and the University of Sydney, and an advisory panel of experts in various fields of evidence-based practice from countries across the globe including Brazil, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands (4). Since the PEDro Partnership is a nonprofit organization and the PEDro database is a free enterprise, donations and support are welcomed from professional organizations, associations, and individual users.

While there are no individual accounts, PEDro users can stay up to date with two emailing options: the PEDro Newsletter and Evidence in Your Inbox. The monthly newsletter provides users with general updates regarding the database and physiotherapy research in the news. Evidence in Your Inbox allows subscribers to select from 15 areas of interest to receive curated monthly emails with the newest trials, reviews, and guidelines. 

Breakthrough

This resource is a valuable and free addition to any library that supports degree programs or clinical departments in physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthopedics, and other rehabilitation sciences. PEDro provides an easy-to-use-and-read interface for users to quickly gather evidence-based content for faster and easier clinical decision making with the added feature of providing access to easy-to-understand content for consumers.

References

1. PEDro. (2020). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from https://pedro.org.au/english/faq/

2. PEDro. (2020). Combining search terms. Retrieved from https://pedro.org.au/english/search-help/#combining_search

3. PEDro. (2020). PEDro Scale. Retrieved from https://pedro.org.au/english/downloads/pedro-scale/

4. PEDro. (2020). Structure. Retrieved from https://pedro.org.au/english/about-us/structure/

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