Study designs of evaluations included in the review
The inclusion criterion was stipulated as placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomised controlled trials (RCTs). However, at least one included three-armed trial comprised an open-treatment arm for the alternative active drug.
Specific interventions included in the review
Phytodolor, a standardised extract of Populus tremula, Fraxinus excelsior, and Solidago virgaurea, were included. Actual regimens used for phytodolor were: 3x30 drops/day at half strength, normal strength, and double strength; 3x40 drops/day; and 2x2 tablets/day (each tablet equivalent to 50 drops). Comparator interventions could be placebo or another active drug. Actual active medications used included diclofenac (3x25 mg/day), piroxicam (20 mg/day), and indomethacin (2x50 mg/day). Treatment duration ranged from two to four weeks.
Participants included in the review
People suffering from musculoskeletal pain (included osteoarthritis, chronic epicondylitis, rheumatic arthritis and various other rheumatic diseases).
Outcomes assessed in the review
No specific outcomes were defined in terms of selection criteria for the trials. The actual outcomes assessed in the review included the following: pain and grip strength; pain and physical impairment; requirement of rescue medication; pain and morning stiffness; pain, swelling, and function; pain, use of rescue medication, and joint function; global assessment and joint mobility; and various clinical symptoms and use of rescue medication. Study end points for outcome assessment ranged from two to four weeks.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
The authors do not state how the papers were selected for the review, or how many of the reviewers performed the selection.