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Methods used to evaluate the immediate effects of airway clearance techniques in adults with cystic fibrosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Chapman N, Watson K, Hatton T, Cavalheri V, Wood J, Gucciardi DF, Smith EF, Hill K
Journal of Clinical Medicine 2021 Nov;10(22):5280
systematic review

This review reports on methods used to evaluate airway clearance techniques (ACT) in adults with CF and examined data for evidence of any effect. Sixty-eight studies described ACT in adequate detail and were included in this review. Frequently reported outcomes were sputum expectoration (72%) and spirometric lung function (60%). Compared with cough alone, following any ACT, there was a trend for greater sputum wet weight, however FEV1 was not different. The mean (95% CI) within-group effect for sputum wet weight following any ACT was 12.43 g 9.28 to 15.58 (n = 30 studies) and for FEV1 was 0.03 L -0.17 to 0.24 (n = 14 studies). Meta-regression demonstrated that, when compared with cough alone, greater sputum wet weight was reported in groups that received additional ACT by between 2.45 and 3.94 g F3,66 = 2.97, p = 0.04). These data suggest the addition of ACT to cough alone may optimise sputum clearance; however, FEV1 lacked sensitivity to detect this change. Importantly, this review highlights the lack of appropriate measures to assess ACT efficacy.

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