Dafne Port Nascimento, Gabrielle Zoldan Gonzalez, Amanda Costa Araujo, Leonardo Oliveira Pena Costa

March 2020, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 462 - 479 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-019-06206-8

First Online: 09 November 2019

Journal impact factor is associated with PRISMA endorsement, but not with the methodological quality of low back pain systematic reviews: a methodological review


To analyze the association of impact factor of the journals publishing low back pain systematic reviews with whether these journals endorsed the PRISMA recommendations and the reviews methodological quality.


We searched the Physiotherapy Evidence Database on January 2018 for all low back pain systematic reviews, published between 2015 and 2017. Our primary outcomes were PRISMA recommendations endorsement by the journal and 2017 journal impact factor. We assessed systematic review methodological quality using the AMSTAR-2 (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews) and reported descriptive statistics. A multivariate linear regression model was built. We assessed 66 systematic reviews published in 42 journals. Thirty-seven journals had an impact factor (mean 4.0, SD 4.8). 55% journals endorsed the PRISMA recommendations. The methodological quality of 75.8% systematic reviews was critically low. Journals with higher impact factor were associated with journals endorsing the PRISMA recommendations (ß 3.7; 95% CI 1.2, 6.3), but were not associated with the reviews’ methodological quality (ß − 0.3; 95% CI − 4.8, 4.3).


Our findings may not be generalized to other study populations and interventions such as medical devices, surgery and medication.


Three out of every four published low back pain systematic reviews had critically low methodological quality. Journals with higher impact factor were associated with journals endorsing the PRISMA recommendations. Clinicians must know how to critically appraise reviews. Journals’ editorial policies should include the assessment of study methodological quality and reporting in the review process of an article.

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