Frequency of use of clinical shoulder examination tests by experienced shoulder surgeon

Aaron D. Sciascia, Tracy Spigelman, W. Ben Kibler, Timothy L. Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Context: Health care professionals have reported and used a multitude of special tests to evaluate patients with shoulder injuries. Because of the vast array of tests, educators of health care curriculums are challenged to decide which tests should be taught. Objective: To survey experienced shoulder specialists to identify the common clinical tests used to diagnose 9 specific shoulder injuries to determine if a core battery of tests should be taught to allied health professionals. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Descriptive survey administered via e-mail. Patients or Other Participants: Of 131 active members of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, 71 responded to the survey. Main Outcome Measure(s): Respondents were asked to complete a survey documenting their use of clinical tests during a shoulder examination. They answered yes or no to indicate their use of 122 different tests for diagnosing 9 shoulder conditions. Results: The average number of tests used for all pathologic conditions was 30 ± 9. The anterior apprehension and crossbody adduction tests were used by all respondents. At least 1 test was used for each of the 9 conditions listed (range = 1-7), and at least 50% of respondents used 25 tests. The tests were reviewed for valid diagnostic accuracy via the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS) tool. High diagnostic value and a large amount of QUADAS variability have been reported in the literature for 16 of the 25 tests. Conclusions: A small percentage (20%) of clinical tests is being used by most examiners. The 25 most common tests identified from this survey may serve as a foundation for the student's knowledge base, with the clear understanding that multiple clinical tests are used by some of the most experienced clinicians dealing with shoulder injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-466
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Athletic Training
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Diagnostic value
  • Evaluation
  • Special tests
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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