Consensus on the exercise and dosage variables of an exercise training programme for chronic non-specific neck pain: protocol for an international e-Delphi study

Jonathan Price, Ali Rushton, Vasileios Tyros, Nicola Heneghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction Clinical guidelines and systematic reviews recommend exercise in the management of chronic non-specific neck pain. Although exercise training programmes that consist of both motor control exercise and exercises for the superficial cervical muscles (segmental exercises) are effective, the exercise variables including dosage vary considerably across trials or are poorly reported. This study aims to gain expert consensus on these exercise variables so that they can be described clearly using intervention reporting checklists to inform clinical practice and future clinical trials. Methods and analysis This protocol for an international Delphi study is informed by the Guidance on Conducting and REporting DElphi Studies recommendations and published to ensure quality, rigour and transparency. The study will consist of three rounds using anonymous online questionnaires. Expert exercise professionals (physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches and so on) and academics in neck pain management will be identified through literature searches, peer referral and social media calls for expression of interest. In round 1, participants will answer open-ended questions informed by intervention and exercise reporting checklists. Responses will be analysed thematically by two independent reviewers. In round 2, participants will rate their level of agreement with statements generated from round 1 and previous clinical trials using a 5-point Likert scale where 1=strongly disagree and 5=strongly agree. In round 3, participants will re-rate their agreement with statements that achieved consensus in round 2. Statements reaching consensus among participants must meet progressively increased a priori criteria at rounds 2 and 3, measured using descriptive statistics: Median, IQR and percentage agreement. Inferential statistics will be used to evaluate measures of agreement between participants (Kendall's coefficient of concordance) and stability between rounds (Wilcoxon rank-sum test). Statements achieving consensus in round 3 will provide expert recommendations of the key exercise and dosage variables in the management of chronic non-specific neck pain. Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval was provided by the University of Birmingham Ethics Committee (Ref:ERN_19-1857). Results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere037656
JournalBMJ open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • spine
  • sports medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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